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The Alcoholics Anonymous 4th Step
I have had a total of one-half of a beer in my entire life, yet I am deeply indebted to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. As my friends in the program have educated me over the years, I find AA principles apply to many areas of my own life.
In the Fourth Step of AA, we are to do this: “[Make] a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
A good business knows what products they have on hand; what products are selling and what are not. This allows them to adjust their inventory for better business. In a similar way, we do well to take an inventory of our own lives. What has worked and what is not?
Isaiah’s Spiritual Inventory
The fifth chapter of Isaiah contains suggestions for a personal and a national inventory. It begins with a story God uses to help us think about our own lives.
Let me sing for my beloved
my love-song concerning his vineyard;
My beloved had a vineyard
on a very fertile hill.
BELOVED – Isaiah knew God as “high and lifted up,” but also One who lives with delight among the “humble.” This God can be adored. As you consider an inventory of your life, spend a few minutes with Isaiah 30.18.
Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.
He dug it and cleared it of stones,
and planted it with choice vines;
he built a watchtower in the midst of it,
and hewed out a wine vat in it;
he expected it to yield grapes,
but it yielded wild grapes.
FRUITLESS – The hard work did not produce the desired result. What has God’s hard work through the cross of his Son, Jesus, produced in our lives? Have we made cheap the grace that he gave to us at such a great cost?
And now, inhabitants of Jerusalem
and people of Judah,
judge between me
and my vineyard.
4 What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield wild grapes?
WHAT MORE? – What more could God do that he hasn’t already done for us? As we take an inventory of our lives, what are some specific ways that we have responded to his love? In what ways do we need improvement?
And now I will tell you
what I will do to my vineyard.
I will remove its hedge,
and it shall be devoured;
I will break down its wall,
and it shall be trampled down.
6 I will make it a waste;
it shall not be pruned or hoed,
and it shall be overgrown with briers and thorns;
I will also command the clouds
that they rain no rain upon it.
I WILL – God is not passive. Most often, he lets our behavior produce results in our lives for good or for ill. Notice the words, “I will.” In these two verses God is very active.
In your inventory ask whether your behavior allows God to be active for your well-being or for judgment.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts
is the house of Israel,
and the people of Judah
are his pleasant planting;
he expected justice,
but saw bloodshed;
but heard a cry!
ASK GOD – God looks for his people to “do the next right thing,” as my AA friends have taught me. As we look over our lives, let’s ask God to reveal to us how well we are doing.
Dear God, please help us examine our lives in the light the directions you have revealed to us. May we adjust our lives to your way of living.
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