Sailboat Spirituality

November 13, 2012

Do you sometimes have difficulty understanding or remembering who does what in our Spiritual maturation? We get that it is God who must make us alive to believe (regeneration), and that he gives us the gift of faith to believe, which leads to salvation (justification).  But then what?  Surely there is something we must do.  What about spiritual disciplines? But then, how does grace work? What does the Holy Spirit do?

I love the imagery Jared Wilson offers in his excellent book Gospel-Wakefulness:

As long as we are thinking of achieving the fruit of the Spirit by our own efforts to be more fruitful and joyful, we may be working in their direction, but we’re getting there by the sweat of our brow.  We’ve embraced rowboat spirituality.   But think of the obedient work of the Christian life like a sailboat.  There are lots of things to do on a sailboat. Sailors don’t just sit there – at least, not for too long.  There are lots of working parts on a sailboat and lots of things to pay attention to. But none of those things make the boat go.  The boat doesn’t go unless the wind catches the sail.

What we are picturing here is the work of the Spiritual Disciplines in conformity with the law of God found in Scriptures, not as the means of propulsion, but as the means of setting the conditions for Spiritual fertility. In obedience, we till the soil of our hearts so that they are more receptive for the planting and growth of the Word in our lives.  We obey both in response to the Spirit’s awakening us and in order to raise the sail for the Spirit’s movement.

“If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” ~ Galatians 5.25

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One Response to “Sailboat Spirituality”

  1. Allen Slade Says:

    Great imagery of a sailboat versus a rowboat. We are called to lives of faithful obedience, not to becoming sanctified on our own.


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