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Spiritual Growth

#4 Compulsion

I often think of compulsion as a negative term. After all, it’s like if someone doesn’t have self-control, they go and do something. But then I realized that was acting on impulse, not compulsion. Oops.

The other day I was reading what Paul wrote when the word “compelled” jumped out at me.

Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!

– 1 Corinthians 9:16

What a striking image. It’s like Paul is urged to do something. He is pushed or compelled or feels it necessary to the point that it almost feels like disaster if he doesn’t preach the gospel!

I have never really thought of compulsions as healthy things, but in this case, this was a God-given compulsion that Paul had to go and preach the gospel. It made me think, What ways does God compel me? Others?

I think God begins with promptings. Over the years I have learned to listen to his promptings more. Sometimes they are hard to hear through all the noise. So a Crawl step this week is to take time every day to be quiet before God and look in His word and listen to what He is saying. Put one prompting into action this week. It often means taking a risk (because sometimes we have a hard time knowing if it’s God speaking or just us), but as long as it doesn’t go against what the Bible teaches, go for it!

The next stage is what I would call “repeated rumblings of holy discontent.” I’m sure someone can think of a better term for that, but that’s just what pops in my mind at the moment. The phrase “holy discontent” is borrowed from pastor and author Bill Hybels, who talks about how God gives us feelings of holy discontent to prod us to action. What is something that God seems to be continually bringing to your attention over and over again? Write this down, explore it, and pray over what God would have you do with it. Then this week, take one step to explore addressing this holy discontent. It could be God opening a door for you to take action.

Ultimately, we come to compulsion and calling. This is where we can’t not respond. (Oops, that was a double negative there. I’m just trying to say that we are unable to just sit there.) It’s like we have restless legs syndrome — we’ve gotta get up and move! God is calling us to do something and we must do it! It would be disobedient not to. The compulsions come as a result of listening to God and going through experiences that cement our conviction that God wants us to take these steps. This week, take a step to pray over and talk with a mature believer to discuss what are the areas of compulsion and calling that God is directing you towards. Then, just do it!

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