Convenience is one of our culture’s highest values. 

If we are hungry, there is little concern about what we did yesterday or six months ago. No sowing the fields, feeding the animals, or canning the vegetables. The grocery store shelves are stocked and five minutes away. There doesn’t even need to be concern about time spent today. We can swing through the drive-through or, better yet, Uber Eats. 

How many of us unconsciously fall prey to Uber Eats Christianity? We will hardly get off the couch to feed ourselves yet we expect the Bread of Life hand-delivered in a brown paper sack. 

In his book, Heaven Taken By Storm, Thomas Watson (1620-1686) states it this way “Though heaven be given to us freely yet we must contend for it.” The Apostle Paul says it this way, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Php 2:12–13) 

Certainly, there are seasons when the Bread of Life showers us with manna from heaven. When everywhere we turn we gain new insight and find ourselves spiritually full and satisfied with seemingly no effort. God brought His people to a land flowing with milk and honey… and then, by faith, they were to plant vineyards, sow fields, and care for flocks and God would provide.

How might we sow the spiritual fields of our own souls? Watson gives insight into seven duties to provoke in our lives: Reading of the Word, Hearing the Word, Prayer, Meditation, Self Examination, Sanctifying the Lord’s Day, and Holy Conversation. This list does not exhaust all possible duties nor do they have mystical powers in themselves and yet God has promised to work through them. As Watson says, “Promises are made to encourage faith, not to cherish sloth.” 

Too often, when we feel the discomfort of spiritual hunger we blame someone else. “I’m not getting fed.” But how often is the real problem in us? We don’t prefer how the table is set so it keeps us from eating, or worse yet, we are unwilling to put forth the effort to bring the fork to our mouth (Prov. 26:15-16). Thus, rather than working out our salvation, we grumble and complain (Php 2:14).  Instead, should we not diligently utilize these means by faith?

Watson gives us four reasons to be forceful in these duties (something he describes as "holy violence"):

1) “The less violence for heaven you exercise, the less peace you will possess.” Walking in the fear of God and walking in the comfort of the Holy Spirit go together (Luke 12:4-12).

2) “The less violent you are, the more violent [Satan] is.” We are to resist Satan and he will flee from us. There is no greater way to resist Satan than to pursue holiness (James 4:7).

3) When we are less violent, “though it may not damn you, [it] will damage you.” Quite simply, sin has consequences. Obedience brings blessing. Sitting on the couch all day may not kill you but, over time, it has consequences for our health.

4) “The more lazy a Christian’s desires are, the more lively his corruptions.” That is to say, something will take up residence in your heart. If you are not stirring up a desire for what is good then that which warps the good into evil will fill its spot.

There is much more to Watson’s little book. If this piques your interest then I encourage you to pick it up. More than anything remember that your sanctification is God’s will for you (1 Thess. 4:3) but it can’t be ordered from an app. God has intimately tied sanctifying results to sanctifying applications.