When we see a list of commands in the Bible or hear a pastor exhort us to "live up" to the characteristics of Christ-likeness we see in scripture, we often are not encouraged but discouraged.
Many of us have these self-defeating, self-loathing defeatist tapes playing over and over in our heads and hearts. “I can't measure up. I can't do this! I can’t live up to these commands or characteristics or examples. I am a selfish, stingy, stupid, stinkin', stubborn sheep. God could never use the likes of me to accomplish His purposes."
Come on. Admit it. You may not use these exact words. But this is the kind of way you talk to yourself about yourself. God hasn’t disqualified you. You’ve disqualified yourself. Your non-biblical self-condemnation is why you don't "live up." It's why you don’t go and serve. And it’s why you are going to heaven empty handed.
Others of us see the lists of commands and exhortations and we jump on the religious treadmill. We don’t disqualify ourselves. We decide to “do more, try harder.” We say, "I’ll turn up the heat on my generosity and unselfishness and concern. I’ll find something risky to do and grit my teeth and get ‘er done!" It’s a performance-based approach. It’s religion – try harder, do more.
Some of us try harder but fail quickly. We get discouraged and quit. It’s why some of us are just going through the motions. There’s very little passion and energy in our lives. We’ve not yet learned how to live by faith in Christ.
Some of us try harder and succeed for a while. We end up being filled with pride. We judge others who aren’t as successful as we are. And then, over time, we run out of gas. We can’t keep up the façade. The do more, try harder approach is just too difficult.
It’s why G.K. Chesterton said, “Anything done in our own strength will either fail miserably or succeed even more miserably.”
We are approaching the Christ-following life all wrong.
We have to learn to talk to ourselves according to the gospel of grace. We have to learn how to inject ourselves – infect ourselves – with the gospel truth. Most of us don’t know how to do this very well.
Recently, I shared an affirmation with CVC that is gospel/grace based. It resonated with many in our church. Maybe it will help you stay encouraged to pursue holiness.
An “I am send-able” affirmation:
“I admit that on my own merits, I am not send-able. But I have been made send-able by Christ. Because of His life, death, and resurrection, I am forgiven. I have been changed. I have died with Christ. In Him, I live. He is working in me. He makes me a concerned, unselfish, proven, generous risk-taker. Jesus makes me, the non-send-able, send-able. So, here am I, Lord, send me!”
(Taken from the gospel principles taught in Romans 7:18, Romans 8:1, Romans 5:8-10, II Corinthians 5:17, Romans 6:6-8, Philippians 2:12-13, I Corinthians 6:11, John 20:21, and Isaiah 6:8.)
So, why not post this "I am send-able" affirmation somewhere? And why not repeat it everyday - even several times a day - until you start to believe it?
Question: How do you remind yourself that the kind of obedience that changes lives is not "do more/try harder" obedience but gospel-based/grace-filled obedience?
Preaching the gospel to yourself everyday
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How grace sets us free from the sins of our fathers