How many of you have ever heard or said yourself…

“Just wait till your father gets home!”

Thought so!  I heard it growing up…I think every parent that draws breath has!

When dad would get home, we’d all act like angels!  It was like a button got pushed or something.  One second we were terrorizing mom…the next…angels!  

Every parent reading this knows what I mean!

I remember coming home from work when the girls were much younger and experiencing the same things!  I could tell just by how Nicky was what kind of day she had with our girls.  While the girls would act like precious little angels as they greeted me at the door, I knew something was amiss…

I think it drove Nicky nuts.  I can understand why.   They would act one way when I was around, but a completely different way when I wasn’t.  I wonder if that was what Paul was experiencing when he wrote this to the church in Philippi…

Philippians 2:12

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  NLT

I wonder if Paul was merely warning them – that they needed to be extra careful now that he was not there with them to remind them…Or was he getting reports that they were not following his example?  He could also be saying they need to practice obedience as Christ did.  In any case, I believe there is a good warning for us.  

More so there is a good warning for me.  

I cannot speak for everyone, but I know I have days that it is a struggle to show the results of my salvation like Paul tells the Philippians to do.  Apart from a restored relationship with God, the next most significant result of my salvation is the love God fills me with  and am to show to others.  Can I just say that I have days that I don’t feel loving?  

I know…I probably shouldn’t be admitting this…Or maybe I should?  Let’s think about that…By being open about it, I am calling it what it is.  I am making myself aware of it.  It is a reality.  And it is the realization of that reality that motivates me to want to do something about it…to change it.  

Great conversation!  So let’s go with that!

Paul’s words along with what I just shared reminds me of a great illustration I have heard several times over the course of my life.  I can’t take credit for it and I don’t know who to give credit to.  The story goes something like this.  

An unbeliever comes under conviction.  He finds grace and salvation and begins a new walk with Jesus as Lord of his heart.  He has so much peace and joy and expresses it.  In other words, he shows the results of his salvation.  But he reaches a point in his journey that causes him some confusion.  Searching for answers he seeks someone wiser than him and describes what he feels to his mentor.  The new believer describes two dogs – one white, one black.  Both dogs are fighting and biting at each other.  And says that’s what it feels like is going on inside of him.  

Have you ever felt like that?  Like there is a war going on inside you?  Like two dogs fighting?  

The mentor, recognizing what is being described to him, simply asks which one gets to win…to which the new believer replied, “It depends on which of the dogs I say sick ‘em to!”

Interesting…Put in terms of two dogs and it makes total sense.  What’s being described here is the will of every human being.  You have one.  I have one.  All God’s kids have one!  And it is that will that gets to choose which dog we tell “Sick ‘em” to.  

Our will is what makes the choice of which of the two natures controls our lives…the white dog, or the black dog.  (Do I need to explain which one is good and which one is evil, or is that safe to assume?)

This describes what I feel somedays.  I know I am to show love.  And some days it is totally easy!  But Paul says something really interesting in that passage above.  Take a look at it again…

Philippians 2:12

Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear.  NLT

Work hard.  Some days it is easy to tell the right dog to “sick ‘em”.  But when its hard, we have to work hard to continue to show the results of our salvation, to love, even when we don’t feel like it.  This is when love is proved less an emotion and more of a choice delivered by action. 

There’s that will again.  

What is interesting to me is that the more I intentionally move my will to attack the black dog, the more the feeling of love returns.  I have to do the things that love does!  Even when its hard.  Even when it’s been a rough season or just a bad day, or I’m just tired and grumpy!  

Yea, I get grumpy!  And cranky too!

Even in the midst of that I can still choose love!  I can act like my Heavenly Father is home and not like he’s away.  I can work hard to show the results of my salvation.  I can work hard to not have to hear…

“Wait till your father gets home!”

He’s already home, filling me up with love.  But I have to choose it.  I have to act upon it.  And so do you!  Let’s help each other do that!