The Wisdom of Solomon strikes painfully true in my heart today (Pro 26:11). Last year I wrote a blog post regarding the lies that my pride preaches, from the depth of my fallen flesh into my ever-transforming mind. If you want to know a bit about my story and why this is close to my heart, I recommend reading it; below is a relevant quote.
“I am limited, but my pride tells me I need to be unlimited. I cannot save the world from their sins, but my pride tells me I can.”
Although over a year has passed since I penned that quote, it does not surprise me that I still hear, and often believe, the same self-condemning lies:
You need to save the world.
You are a failure if you don’t.
You can save the world alone.
You aren’t trying hard enough.”
I am limited, but my pride tells me I need to be unlimited.
The greatest danger lies in this: in great pride I want to believe that God has created me for the purpose of saving the world, as if Jesus failed to “finish the job.” This develops into a burden of anxiety that I was never designed to bear, far more wearisome than the one our Lord offers us (Mat 11:28-30).
Humility Defeats Anxiety
The world wants you to believe that the presence of anxiety is the absence of peace, but I beg to differ. Anxiousness stems from pride; humility is the proper remedy.
Last February I experienced my first anxiety attack. In the aftermath my mentor made an observation that has stuck with me to this day. To paraphrase:
“The path to humility is lined with grace and acceptance. To walk such a path requires a balanced step-by-step process of experiencing and trusting the grace of God and accepting the truth of His work in our lives and the world.”
The greatest danger lies in this: in great pride I want to believe that God has created me for the purpose of saving the world, as if Jesus failed to “finish the job.”
In our own lives God has already displayed His radical ability to save sinners, which testifies to His grace (I Tim 1:16; II Cor 4:6). Likewise, His grace will not allow us to remain in our current state, but always promises greater sanctification into the image of Christ (Phil 1:6; Rom 8:28-30). Finally, the grace of God is according to His plan, not our own, so we might not always understand why things happen a certain way, yet we can trust His purpose will be accomplished (John 3:8; Zec 4:6).
On the other hand we are faced with the truth of our natural identity, unworthy and defiled (Isa 64:6; Psalm 38:3-4). Acceptance of our limitation is also necessary; we truly have nothing to offer Him (Mat 5:3; Luke 18:13). However, the greatest truth we must meditate upon is our God’s great ability to multiply and transform even our most inadequate offerings (Mat 14:17-21; II Cor 9:10-11; II Cor 12:9).
If we depend and lean upon the promise of God’s sovereign grace, while at the same time come to terms and accept the truth of our own limitations, anxiety will have no power.
How do we take those theological truths and preach them to ourselves? How do we walk in the victory of Christ in a world that tries to trip and misdirect us with every step?
In my last year of navigating through anxiety, I have made two observations.
His grace will not allow us to remain in our current state, but always promises greater sanctification into the image of Christ.
First, walking with Christ implies intentionality. Don’t let the decisions of the future, yet to be made, make you neglect the works God has for you today (Matthew 6.34; Philippians 4:5-7; Ephesians 2:10). Cultivate a faithful and Christ-centered life today in preparation for tomorrow (Psalms 37:3). A season of prayerlessness, despair, and turmoil can be as edifying and growing as the most abundant harvest (Ecclesiastes 7:13-14).
Secondly, dwell in the reality that everything we do in this life has a trade-off. The pursuit of any ambition limits the ability to influence in other areas. Even Jesus turned away from cities without healing all in order to focus on the primary goal.
- The missionary to the world loses his “homeland”, leaving behind family and friends who may not know the Lord.
- The one who desires to reach the underprivileged, who moves into low-income communities, loses the ability to witness to his upper-middle-class neighbor.
- The married man loses the freedom and fluidity of singlehood, yet the single man does not experience the edification of marriage.
Remind yourself often of this reality, but do not allow it to paralyze you in a state of indecisiveness. Praise God that the body of Christ is diverse, able to reach every sphere of influence!
Observe where the Lord has you currently, and walk forward by faith. And as you are going, lead others in Christ, doing all to the glory of God (Mat 28:19-20; I Cor 10:31).
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Image Credit: Son of Groucho, Creative Commons