Christianity 201

May 16, 2017

Seeking God’s Approval

Today we’re paying a return visit to Mark McIntyre at the blog Attempts at Honesty. Click the title below to read at source.

A difficult transition

One of the things about the Christian life that I have had the most difficulty with is fully appreciating my identity in Christ and the implications of that identity.

I have nearly completed my sixth decade of life, all but five years of it as a believer, yet I find myself trying to earn the approval of both God and the people around me. I need to transition from trying to earn God’s approval to responding to the love and acceptance that I already have. Rather than trying to be an initiator, I need to be a responder.

In the case of God, my head knows that he already approves of me. I do not need to earn his love. By doing so, I am trying to earn what I already possess.

In the case of the people around me, it is a fools errand to try to please them due to a combination of my propensity to failure and their own similar struggles. My experience is (John Lydgate not withstanding) that I can’t please some of the people all of the time. I can’t even please myself all of the time.

Yet, I am reminded that while I do not need to earn God’s approval, my life goes better when I am obedient to what he calls me to do. While I cannot earn God’s love, nor earn my salvation, I can act in such a way that brings pleasure to God. In the parable of the talents, Jesus enjoins us to faithfulness so that in the end we hear “Well done, good and faithful slave . . .” (Matthew 25:21).

But I find this complicated by the distractions both within and around me. My life has been a process of transitioning from being a man-pleaser to being first and foremost a God-pleaser. I feel that I should be so much farther along than I am in making this transition.

I am very good at making excuses for my lack of progress. I might blame it on personality (indirectly blaming it on God who made me), I might blame the way I was brought up or I might blame it on the people in my life. While these often make it more difficult, they are not the reason for my lack of progress.

My lack of progress in making this transition is due to my pride. I want to be in charge. I want to earn what I am given. I want to be admired for what I have done. I want to finally conquer the lingering feelings of inadequacy through hard work and determination. I. I. I. I ad infinitum.

My only hope is what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:4-7:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

I should follow God’s advice and cease striving and know that he is God (Psalm 46:10) and let him do the work that only he can do.

February 24, 2012

Lying to Ourselves

In the process of verifying one of the E. Stanley Jones quotes that appeared here yesterday, I came across a Tumblr blog by sabrinacate, but I couldn’t actually locate the proper link for attribution. (If anyone can locate this exact article, I’ll add the link.)  This post was too good not to include here…

Lies We Tell Ourselves About God

Why lie to ourselves.

—God does not know or see what I’m doing:

  • Psalm 73:11 “They say, ‘How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?’”
  • God always knows. Why do we tell ourselves He doesn’t. Even if we may not tell ourselves that, we act like we believe that sometimes.

—God sees things the way I do:

  • I Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’”
  • Just because we like something or do something does not mean that God approves of it.

—God is appeased by my giving

  • I Samuel 15 “Saul was commanded by God to destroy the Amalekites and to leave nothing left. Saul disobeyed God. He spared Agag and the best of the sheep, oxen, fatlings, lambs, and all that was good.”
  • It’s not ok to not do things the way God says. We need to live in a way that honors Him during the week, not just when we are at church.
  • He doesn’t need you singing praises to Him, if you wont live by Him!

—God doesn’t believe in me

  • Job 4:18 “He puts not trust even in His servants’ And against His angels He charges error”
  • God believed in Job’s faith. He can certainly believe in ours as well. God does everything with us in mind. He believes we can choose holiness.
  • Having a place prepared in Heaven, already for us, shows how much God believes in us. He wants us and believes that we can be righteous.

Our Common Lies

—God only helps those who help themselves

  • 8 out of 10 people believe this is found in the Bible.
  • We value work, as humans, and we assume that God thinks like us, which He doesn’t.
  • If this statement were so, we would not be Christians. It says we are helpless and hopeless in the Bible.
  • Paul said there is not one who is righteous.
  • God makes up the whole gap with Jesus’ sacrifice.
  • Everyday our attitude should be “Thank you, Lord, for your gift.”
  • Luke 18 “The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector”
  • God helps those who know they need help, like the tax collector in the parable.

—God’s love much be earned

  • This idea is not from God.
  • Galatians 3
  • There’s nothing you can do to get God to love you more or less. It also never says in the Bible why God chose to love the Israelites or the apostles or us. So why would we think there had to be something they did to deserve it?

—God understands that’s just the way I am. After all, He made me this way.

  • “Oh, I know I shouldn’t do that, but …”
  • God did not make you to sin!!
  • God understands that’s just they way I am, but that’s why He sent His son Jesus! SO THAT WE CAN CHANGE!
  • This is just our way of making excuses and justifying the things we do.

We create distortions of reality when we lie to ourselves.

  • If we tell ourself that someone hates us, we’ll relate that way to them.
  • If we do this with God, that always brings pain and suffering.

“When we say we begin with God, we begin with our idea of God, and our idea of God is not God. Instead, we ought to begin with God’s idea of God, and God’s idea of God is Christ” -E. Stanley Jones