Well that’s a loaded question now, isn’t it? There are many reasons we get derailed from our goals, best intentions, dreams and desires, as well as our necessary responsibilities.
We could actually make excuses all day long, but that doesn’t produce positive change.
For the past 6 weeks I’ve taken a new approach with life. I’m still working it out, but I know I’m on the right path. How do I know? Because I can’t believe the positive changes I’m seeing in such a short amount of time!
It started with being honest with myself; taking accountability for my own life. Galations 6:4-5 states, “Each one should test their own actions. For each one should carry their own load.” Sometimes we need to stop the merry-go-round of life and ask ourselves, “What’s working, what’s not, and why?” That “why” is the tough part. We have to look to our own choices, habits and routines and decide what we need to change to turn things around.
Yes, that’s the wonderful thing about freedom…we get to choose. In Galations 5:1, Paul exhorts us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm them, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” A slave doesn’t get to make choices, someone else is doing that for them. A free person gets to decide in all things…if they choose well, they remain free. If they do not choose well, then they are giving control back to the slave driver.
So how do we stand firm so we do not become entrapped in slavery again? Let me ask you a question. Do we do what we should because we know we should? I don’t think so. We can sustain that for about 30 minutes, and then we throw in the towel. Need to…should…ought to…these are not motivators and we will never sustain any progress in our life if these are our reasons.
We have to go back to our core values and desires. Do we want to have better relationships with our family members? Do we want to be more successful in our workplaces? Do we want to improve our health so we can enjoy quality of life? Do we want to know Jesus more, so we can love Him more, and live out the calling and purpose that He has prepared for each and every one of us?
Our foundation must first align with what Christ taught. In Galations 5:6 we read, “For in Christ Jesus….the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That’s a pretty strong statement! How do we do that? Paul tells us in Galations 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me.” He then follows that up with Galations 5:13, “Do not use your freedom (choice) to indulge the flesh, rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”’
So going back to our core values and desires…our why, it is out of our love for Christ and others, by serving them, that we ignite the passion within us to make the choices, routines and habits that fulfill those desires.
But we can’t stop there, because we haven’t gotten to the “how.” Here’s where we get to really be amazed and overwhelmed, because the “how” for the Christian is filled with super-natural power!
First, we need to understand our natural response is to the negative. Our brains were not designed to make us happy. Our brains primary function is survival…every other organ in our body is dependent on this truth. If survival is the brains number one priority, then you can be sure it is always on the lookout for anything that could harm it. Therefore, left to its natural tendencies, our minds will be consumed with worry and fear as our brain takes in all of the negative content it is constantly bombarded with.
We start by counter-acting this with protecting our minds. This is both a pro-active and defensive move. We can decide to not watch certain things, go certain places, or be around certain people who fill our minds with negativity….that is pro-active. But sometimes we are just bombarded, both at the conscious and subconscious level with buckets full of the world’s garbage! We read in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”
If we want to win this war that’s waged on our minds…and if the thoughts in our minds turn to emotions….and those emotions turn to actions, or worse yet, paralyzation….then we had better know where to draw our power from.
Galations 5:16 says, “Walk by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” We must rely on the work of the Holy Spirit in us, to overcome our natural desires.
Here’s a little comparison of our natural desires versus what happens when the Spirit is leading us.
Easy to ignite Difficult to ignite
Difficult to stifle Easy to stifle
Oppressive & Possessive Liberating & Nurturing
Deadly Abundant Life
The Natural list is easy. It doesn’t require any self-discipline. It’s not that we want these outcomes, but if we drift through life responding to each situation with “what comes natural,” we will find ourselves on this very unfulfilling and ultimately deadly road.
Galations 6:7 says, “A man reaps what he sows.” We also read in Galations 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
Our choices (decisions), produce behaviors (actions) that become habits (repeated actions) which when compounded (time) produce results (goals).
There’s the formula, now let’s add the super-natural to it. Galations 5:22-25 states, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
We are no longer slaves, but God’s precious children. He has made us His heirs. We can choose to live in freedom. Take a moment to evaluate those things in your life that just don’t seem to be working right, or the areas that you know you constantly struggle with. Pray and ask your heavenly Father to help you to accept your personal responsibility in each area, and to work in your heart through the filling of His Spirit to produce the choices, behaviors, and habits He desires for you, so that you can step into the amazing future He has for you…starting today.
Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plants to give you hope and a future.”
Scripture and excerpts taken from the NIV Life Application Study Bible and The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy