At some point or another, we all feel unworthy. Of our job. Our friends or family. Someone else’s affection. Of God’s love.
I experience this whenever I let my shortcomings define me. I focus on my weaknesses–ignoring my God-given skills, talents, and blessings–and start to think “that’s all there is to me: flaws.”
The Bible calls those shortcomings something else: flesh (as in “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit”; Galatians 5:17). Which seems to confirm that we’re all just big wads of failure. After all, we’re made of flesh, right? So if flesh is weak and sinful, and flesh is what I’m made of, then I’m made of weaknesses, faults, shortcomings, and sin.
Except that’s not true: we’re not just flesh. We’re souls, made by Almighty God the Creator, who inhabit flesh while on this earth. Continue reading
When my wife calls, I answer. There are plenty of reasons – not the least of which is that I almost always feel better after talking to her than I did before.
When God calls, I answer, too, but for different reasons. I answer God because I’ve chosen to serve him. He’s my master, and answering your master’s call is what servanthood is all about.
That definition implies something else, too: whether you like/admit it or not, you serve whatever or whoever you drop everything to follow. Moreover, doing so at the expense of your relationship with God, your pursuit of His will, or the responsibilities He’s laid on you (socially, financially, spiritually, or otherwise), may be a sign of addiction and serious pain in your future. Continue reading
One step in the wrong direction is all it takes to ruin a marriage, a business venture, a ministry, or even a life.
On the flipside, it only takes one step to begin the climb out of the depths of despair, loneliness, and depression.
Both sin and obedience function a lot like escalators. We take one small, insignificant step and suddenly find ourselves far from where we began. Continue reading
I’ve noticed a trend in the way people – including me – pray: we spend a lot of time praising God and asking for his counsel and intervention (which is good), but not so much confessing our sins (which is bad). I think there are a couple of reasons. First, we’re embarrassed by our shortcomings and don’t like to admit when we’re wrong. No big surprise, there. Secondly, though – and this is something that can really undermine our repentance – we don’t understand our sins.
In Hebrew, there are several words for sin, each with its own distinct meaning. There are unintentional failings, bad habits that have become so commonplace the sinner doesn’t even consider whether they’re right or wrong, and intentional acts of wrongdoing performed out of rebelliousness. How often, though, have you heard or prayed a prayer that closes with a non-committal and totally uninspired “and God, please forgive us where we’ve failed you, amen”?
When you pray that way, do you even take the time to consider where you’ve actually failed God?
Do you stop to consider what your motivations were when you sinned?
Do you make plans to get your heart right and not make the same mistake again?
Do you ask God to help you overcome sin in the future, in addition to forgiving you for sins in the past?
Personal growth requires self-reflection. You have to identify bad habits before you can break them, and strengths before you rely on them. Painful as it is, you need to be honest about your motives if you ever hope to change them.
I pray God’ll give me a greater understanding of my failings so that one day I can overcome them. I pray I’ll have the humility and strength to admit the selfish motives behind my sins and then become the servant to others I know I should be.
I pray the same for you.
Confession is hard. It requires that admit our faults, to ourselves, God, and others.
It’s so hard, in fact, that we don’t do a lot of it. Or we make token confessions and hope that God will do our dirty work for us and somehow erase not only the memory of our sin but the temptation to ever sin again.
That’s not how it works.
Repentance and redemption require that we do the heavy lifting – that we admit our wrongdoing and take action to overcome our weaknesses.
Just before Jesus resurrected Lazarus from the dead, he spoke to Mary, Martha, and others gathered around the tomb. The scene, I think, is a wonderful illustration of Christ’s power to raise us out of a life of sin… given that we’re willing to work alongside him. Here’s how it went down, as chronicled in John chapter 11: Continue reading