Are You Just Treading Water?

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Are You Just Treading Water?

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In high school, we were required to take a swimming class that taught us basic strokes. Sure, it could be said we needed to know how to swim because it’s a fun thing we all need to do, but it was required because they wanted us to be able to survive in the water during a precarious situation.

I wouldn’t say it’s likely that many of the hundreds of thousands of students who went through that course were going to find themselves in the situation where they needed to practice the survival techniques—treading water, dead man’s float, etc.—learned in that class. Most of our water experiences are fun ones. But what if? So we learned the techniques and spent hours learning how to survive in the water.

Use the Holy Spirit the way it was intended, and let’s quit treading water in our spiritual walk with God.

If you haven’t learned to tread water, it is basically a stroke that requires the minimum amount of effort you can exert to stay afloat. Your head stays just above the surface as your lower extremities relax, only staying above water by quick, minimal motions of the hands called heeling and sculling. The idea here is to do just enough to stay alive until someone can rescue you. The dead man’s float is when you’re exhausted and simply stop moving for a while, put your face in the water and float there until you’ve regained some strength to tread water again. It’s a position you never want to find yourself in.

Recently I was thinking about our spiritual lives in this sense. Am I simply doing the bare minimum in my Christian walk to “get by?” Does God want me to simply get by or does He want me to bear much fruit? Consider the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-30 Matthew 25:14-30 [14] For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered to them his goods. [15] And to one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. [16] Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. [17] And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. [18] But he that had received one went and dig in the earth, and hid his lord's money. [19] After a long time the lord of those servants comes, and reckons with them. [20] And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, you delivered to me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more. [21] His lord said to him, Well done, you good and faithful servant: you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. [22] He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, you delivered to me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them. [23] His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things: enter you into the joy of your lord. [24] Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew you that you are an hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not strewed: [25] And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the earth: see, there you have that is yours. [26] His lord answered and said to him, You wicked and slothful servant, you knew that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strewed: [27] You ought therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received my own with usury. [28] Take therefore the talent from him, and give it to him which has ten talents. [29] For to every one that has shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that has not shall be taken away even that which he has. [30] And cast you the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
American King James Version×
. The servant that used his gifts invested his talents and saw a return on it. He was told, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” But the servant who did the bare minimum and hid his talent was not so fortunate.

“You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So, take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

The bare minimum is not enough.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:19 1 Thessalonians 5:19Quench not the Spirit.
American King James Version×
, we are told not to quench the Holy Spirit. Do you ever think about how that could be manifested in our lives? I picture it as having the Spirit but doing nothing with it, or the bare minimum to get by, which is just as dangerous.

You see, we cannot be spiritually treading the water of our Christianity. What would that look like exactly? I’m sure at some point in all our lives we may have experienced this. I know I have. It’s just a sort of lack-luster approach to having a relationship with God. It’s saying that it’s OK to put work, school, friends, family, entertainment, anything before God. It’s justifying all of that and reasoning within ourselves to say it’s fine. It’s having a Christian exterior when on the interior we’re not so bright and shiny.

We’ve been given this great gift that helps us understand God’s truth and to put it into practice in our lives. The Holy Spirit is the power of God. So, in essence, when we aren’t using that power in the way it was intended for us, we are having a form of righteousness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5 2 Timothy 3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×
). As a fire is put out by withdrawing fuel from it, so we quench the Spirit if we do not fuel it, if we do not stir up that fire and kindle it. We quench it by staying in that water too long, by not power stroking through that water until we reach shore.

We cannot be content to stand still in stagnant waters of an unzealous Christian life. We can’t tread spiritual water and think we can just skate by. We should be making crashing waves on the shores of this world with our Christianity. People notice a wave. It’s a lot harder to spot a person barely afloat out in the ocean. Getting out of the water and stoking the fire that was started in us when we were first called is the goal. Every day we need to start out stoking the fire set inside us. We need to use the gifts our Heavenly Father has given us and bear fruit.

How can we stoke that fire? By doing good to others, especially those of the household of faith. Praying. Studying God’s Word. Meditation. Fasting. It’s easy to list them out in this article. It’s a lot harder in the application of our lives. But thankfully God has given us His Spirit to overcome. Let’s use His Spirit the way it was intended, and let’s quit treading water in our spiritual walk with God.