With 2018 just around the corner, I thought I would compose a list of some things I have learned this year:
I’ve learned that personal holiness isn’t an option.
I’ve struggled in the past few months wrestling with this idea of pursuing holiness. I know that God in Christ has called me to holiness(1 Peter 1:5). Often times the thought overwhelms me and takes my breath away. Indeed it is a high calling, one that we will not perfect on this side of glory. Yet God wants us to share His nature (Hebrew 12:!0) so it is something that is worth every effort. I would go back and forth in my mind, ‘Why pursue holiness if I’m going to continue to fall short of the glory of God? Why pursue holiness (which is perfection) when I will not become perfect in this life?’ And to be transparent it is still something I’m tossing back and forth in my mind today. The facts: God has called me to be holy and He has given me all I need to be like Him(2 Peter 1:3). I think the already-and-not-yet aspect of Christianity is slightly frustrating me. I want to be perfect now, and that will never be my reality. I think once I got saved I realized that I have some perfectionism and I can be more driven by my performance than my love for God. It is a grace a to be in Christ but often times I am overwhelmed by how often I need to look to Him. What I mean is this, Jesus is my righteousness, He makes me acceptable to the Father. And yet I find myself wanting to earn God’s love and have a righteousness of my own. It is humbling, and I so need to be humbled. I need to not make myself “lovable” but be compelled by God’s love for me in Christ.
I’ve learned that it is easier to fall away from God than it is to draw near Him.
There is no such thing as a ‘happy middle’ in Christianity. We are either drawing close to God or we are moving far from Him. And I notice for me that the shift is swift, and often times I’m so far away from God before I even realize it. It is when the means of grace (prayer, Bible study, devotions, fasting, etc.) become something to check off my list than a means to draw near to God. I’ll find myself racing through these just to do the things I’d rather do. And don’t get me wrong we need to discipline ourselves in these matters so that we will do them. But we have to be mindful that we don’t earn God’s love because we do them, no are we working to earn righteousness, because Christ is our righteousness. If we aren’t drawing near to God with these means of grace He’s given us, allowing Him to renew our minds, focus our gaze and warm our hearts with His fire, we are moving away from Him.
I’ve learned that there is this perfect Christ-follower in my head, and she is so much better than me. Yet she is not standard, Christ is the standard.
So often I get overwhelmed comparing myself to her. She loves the Lord. She’d rather read her Bible, or Christian books than settle for a night of binging on Netflix. She prays all the time. She goes to church, even when she doesn’t feel like it. She cares about and loves people. She is perfect, and I am not. Now, there is nothing wrong with none of her activities. I aim to be more Christ-like but I am not her. This woman in head never struggles, she never is tried by fire nor does she sin. She is perfect! I don’t need to go on social media to compare myself to others because there is a non-existing person that I already do that with. I have to remind myself that Christ is the standard, He actually exists and doesn’t desire for me to be so tortured.
I’ve learned that God isn’t leaving my side.
I think I’ve given God many reasons to leave my side. In my mind, He would still be just to throw to the towel with me. But if He did He would be no God. As challenging as my walk is, and will likely continue to be God has not given me over. Were it not for those hard-headed Israelites in the Old Testament I would not know that God is so compassionate and merciful. I would not know that He is a covenant-keeping God. There have been several times I desired to walk away from God, not because I stopped believing, or because He isn’t good. But because walking with Him was harder than I expected. And still, He never left my side. God is faithful even we aren’t. Because of those dark moments (that I wouldn’t wish for anyone else) I know my name is written in heaven. I’m even surer of my salvation in Christ. I know that even when I am a mess, and I can’t lift my eyes heavenward, God will complete this good work that He’s’ started in me (Phil 1:6).
I’ve learned the significance of tithing, and generosity in general.
This is mostly due to the four-week series my church did on this subject. It wasn’t very long after I joined a church, that I understood the importance of tithing. But my Pastors Dr. Marcus D. Davidson Jr. and Frank Kennedy Jr. expounded several scriptures about generosity. Before I came to know God I presumed churches were after the member’s wallet. But when God gave me faith in His Son, I saw in the Scriptures that giving wasn’t a man-made idea. From Genesis to Revelation we see God’s people giving out of what He’s already given them. And again we don’t give to earn God’s grace or favor. We give because we want our treasures to be in heaven(Matthew 6:19-21).
I’ve learned that you can’t have pet sins.
Gluttony has been a pet sin of mines since the Holy Spirit first convicted me that it indeed was a sin. In the past, I have tried to put it away, and exercise self-control, only to eventually give up and decide to try to control it instead of killing it (Romans 8:13). A pet sin is a sin dear to your heart, one that you refuse to let go of. You convince yourself that you can keep it and control it. But sin can’t be controlled it can only control you. When we seek to not put sin away but rather keep it, we desire to reverse the roles, but that is impossible. Sin will always be master and we can only be slaves to it. Besides sin isn’t something to take likely. It puts barriers between us and God. We can not be a slave to two masters, we will love the one and hate the other(Matthew 6:24). You may put sin in a little cage, and sometimes take it out and pet it, but it will always control you. And you will never control it.
This year has gone by too fast. I’ve learned a lot this year, I’ve had days on the mountain and days in the valley. But God has been with me every step of the way, although dark and confusing. I think if I had to think of one word to describe this year, I would say ‘crawling’. Seeing that I am still somewhat of an infant in Christ. I am learning to walk with God, sometimes I fall, but He always picks me right up. My earthly father died this year, only months ago, but God has reminded that I still have a Father, an eternal one at that. All in all, I am blessed even when my own eyes can’t see it.
Thank You for following my journey as I walk with God. May God bless and keep you. May your heart be filled with gratitude. May you be contented. May you love the Lord with all your strength.
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