I love my niece, Naomi.
She’s not even 18-months-old yet, but she’s already really good at so many things. She’s amazing at drinking through a straw. She’s really good at pushing the buttons on the DVD player even when she’s not supposed to. She’s great at eating her food and getting it all over the place.
Unfortunately, she’s not very good at coloring. In fact, she’s pretty terrible at it. I had her color a picture for me and she couldn’t even stay within the lines.
Staying within the lines is important for coloring but it’s also important in our lives with God.
God has set up some lines for our lives. Lines that, if we stay within them, will help us live the best lives possible. Last night at youth group we talked about the sexual lines that God has set up. If we stay within those lines and pursue God’s intentions for sexuality then we’ll end up in a good place.
Staying within the lines doesn’t just happen, though. Without intention and effort our lives will undoubtedly end up going outside the lines. When we don’t try to live our lives within the lines, they end up looking like my niece’s colorings.
Even though they all died in the Flood, we’re a lot like the people who didn’t make it onto Noah’s boat. Genesis 6 says that every inclination of those people’s hearts was evil. Because of the stain of sin, the inclination of our hearts is evil as well. Without intention and effort, our hearts will drift towards evil because it’s their natural inclination.
Because of Jesus, though, we can be different; we can be sanctified. But we have to partner with the Holy Spirit and work at it.
Each of us has some lines in which we have trouble staying. Maybe those lines have to do with pride, patience or lust. Whatever our trouble lines are, though, if we want to stay within them we have to try. Our hearts are inclined to go outside the lines. If we want to keep them inside it’ll take a lot of the Holy Spirit as well as a lot of discipline and intention.
It doesn’t take any effort to color outside the lines. It takes a lot of effort to color within the lines. When we do, though, the picture is much more beautiful and closer to its intention.
What helps you stay within the lines?