In today’s first reading from Romans 8:12-17, Saint Paul encourages us to live by the spirit and not by the flesh. What does it actually mean to live by the spirit? And for that matter, what does it mean to live by the flesh? Let’s clear up the answers to those questions first, before we can determine how we should live.
To Live by the Spirit
As a baptized Christian, you are an adopted son or daughter of God. That makes you a rightful heir of God. As an heir of God, your inheritance is Heaven. Therefore, how you live your life on earth, will determine how you live for eternity. Will you squander your inheritance, or will you live your life in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Saint Paul strongly urges us to live our lives in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s guidance. That’s what it means to live by the Spirit.
To Live According to the Flesh
Do you place more importance on the here and now, rather than eternity? Is it most important to you to satisfy your basic human needs (food, clothing, housing and sexual urges), rather than your spiritual growth? If the answers to these questions are yes, you are living according to the flesh. And do you ever even give a fleeting thought to how your behavior in the here and now might impact how you spend eternity? If the answer to this question is no, then you are definitely living according to the flesh.
So, How Do We Live by the Spirit?
The answer is simple. Take those questions I asked about living according to the flesh and turn them around:
- Begin placing more importance on eternity, rather than the here and now. This will completely alter your focus on your decision-making process. You will see yourself making better life decisions.
- Put more time and effort into satisfying your need for spiritual growth. You will find that by doing so, you will create more balance in your life, and that you will be able to manage your basic needs better. For you to be reading this post on my website, I surmise that you are already in the process of searching for ways to grow spiritually. Keep up the good work!
- Evaluate your behavior in the here and now. If your behavior is sinful, more so than not, then look to eliminate your sinful ways, and embrace more virtuous ways. By doing so, you will set yourself on the path to eternity.
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