Since moving into my parents house almost two months ago (wow!) my morning and evening commute has doubled. Instead of being able to leave my apartment and drive 12 minutes to work, it now takes me 25 minutes, on a good day. Besides having to fill up my gas tank more, I really don’t have any complaints about this added time in my car. Thanks to a good friend, I now have a cassette tape aux cord hooked up so I can listen to music or podcasts while I drive. #blessed
Lately, I’ve been in the routine of listening to sermons on my way to work and music on my drive home. I enjoy listening to sermons in the morning for a couple of reasons, I think the time flies by much faster when I’m focusing on someone talking, I also like the opportunity to hear a message that sparks an idea or concept that I can chew on for the rest of the day. The more content I digest, the more content I’m able to produce. It makes sense.
This morning I was listening to a sermon by, you guessed it, Judah Smith. He was talking about our tendency as humans to constantly be striving. We strive for success, acceptance and even perfection. As Christians we know that striving to live a perfect life is impossible, but we do it anyways. Judah went on to explain that eventually we start believing that we’re pretty good. We’re doing alright at this christian life thing at least better than some people. Friends, that’s a scary and dangerous place to be. We have got to understand that Christ works through us. Anything good that I do is Christ in me.
“We ought to be people who are constantly telling ourselves, it wasn’t you. It was Him.” – Judah Smith
When I heard these words come through my speakers, my mouth dropped. Seriously! It might sound strange, but I felt like this was meant for my ears only. It is a tendency of mine to try to earn God approval. At this point I’m not even sure if I’m trying to earn God’s approval or just make others believe that I’m better than I really am. But either way, it’s exhausting. When I find myself in a place of serving and ‘doing good’ out of obligation or striving it wears me down so, so quickly. Judah explains it this way,
“Anything that makes your flesh feel better, in terms of your spiritual journey, of pride and self accomplishment, often times is not sustainable and will lead you to a place where you are misappropriating the goodness, grace and sufficiency of Jesus.”
Guys, it goes against everything we’ve been told as a society. We are supposed to take credit for our success, we are supposed to be overly confident in our abilities, we’re supposed to push, drive and strive. Don’t misunderstand me here. Confidence is good, hard work is good and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful in all that we do. While none of this is inherently bad, it becomes dangerous when we start believing that we can do any of it on our own. No, when I succeed, it is Christ in me.
Eventually, when we come to a place of giving God all of the glory for our success, we can finally find rest. When we realize Christ is the driving force for our success, the pressure is off. We move from a place of striving to a place of receiving. It’s not thinking less of ourselves and our abilities, it’s actually about opening ourselves up to the power that we have in Christ. God is able to do so much more than we are. We’ve just got to be willing to follow his lead.
Easier said than done, right? I would agree. It’s not so easy to change a pattern of thinking we’ve developed over a lifetime, a way of thinking that society constantly validates. I’m going to start small. I’m going to start giving God the glory in all that I do. When I find myself proud of something I’ve done, I’m going to acknowledge that it was good, and that’s because my God is good and he’s at work in and through me. I’m going to start telling myself, “It wasn’t you. It was Him.”.
Interested in listening to the sermon that inspired this post? Find it here.