Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

“God has a wonderful plan for your life…and so does everyone else”

I tend to be a perfectionist. I set high standards for myself and when I miss the mark I become laden with guilt. Apparently there are others out there who deal with the same issues. According to the studies of psychologist Roy Baumeister, the average person spends approximately 2 hours a day feeling guilty. For 39 minutes of that time, people feel moderate to severe guilt that may limit their abilities. This does not refer to the standards we set for ourselves only, but also includes the expectations of others. I don’t know about you, but I can’t meet my own expectations, let alone everyone else’s.

The good news is – it’s not that way with God. God is perfect in every way, yet we can meet His expectations for us because His expectations are realistic. Isn’t it interesting that there are some people you will never be able to please, but you can please God? It’s mind-boggling! Now I’m not referring to any standard of perfection or sinlessness that can only be obtained in heaven. God has called us to become more like Christ and that in and of itself is a higher standard that we are to strive for. I’m referring to God’s plans for our lives versus people‘s plans for us. It is essential for me to discover His will, because when I learn what He expects of me, I don’t have to try to live up to everyone else’s standards. If I am not living out God’s plan, then I am serving man and not God.

God’s expectations for me are perfect. He knows what I am, and what I am not, capable of. And unlike our critics, He does not expect what we cannot give. He sets His standard for us based on the gifts and talents He has blessed us with. It is important to note though, that although God does not expect too much of us, He also does not expect too little – there’s always two extremes. There are those who strive to do more than they should and others who do less than they should. Both can lead to disaster.

There are benefits to God-pleasing and pitfalls to people-pleasing. When we strive to please God, we become better people. When we seek to please men, we become bitter people. When we strive to please God, we are filled with joy. When we seek to please men, we are stripped of joy. When we strive to please God, we receive strength. When we seek to please men, we become exhausted. There is peace and freedom found when we look for God’s approval, but only guilt and frustration when we strive after the approval of men.

We are called to possess a servant's heart. But to serve out of love rather than out of obligation. Galatians 5:13 says, "You, my brothers, were called to be free {from the expectations of men}. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love."  When we serve man as unto the Lord, we serve in love. When we serve man out of obligation only, we rob ourselves of the blessing of servanthood.

When we fall short of the expectations of man, we tend to judge ourselves unworthy, or consider ourselves a failure when in reality we our God’s beloved. Listen to these beautiful words taken from the book, “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning,

“We ourselves are the greatest obstacle to our own nobility of soul. We judge ourselves unworthy servants, and that judgment becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. What we need is a glimpse of the true self – unself-conscious, unpretentious, immersed in life, absorbed in the present moment, breathing in God as naturally as a fish swimming in water. Sanctity lies in discovering my true self, moving toward it, and living out of it. ‘Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. You are precious in my eyes, because you are honored and I love you…the mountains may depart, the hills may be shaken, (you may disappoint yourself and others), but my love for you will never leave you and my covenant of peace with you will never be shaken’ (Isaiah 43:1, 4; 54:10). Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. God’s love for you and choice of you constitute your worth. Accept that, and let it become the most important thing in your life. The basis of my personal worth is not my possessions, my talents, not esteem, (or approval) of others, or reputation…I stand anchored now in God before whom I stand naked, this God who tells me, ‘You are my beloved.’ Being the beloved is our identity, the core of our existence.”

Amen and Amen.

“If only we all could apply some extra grace, this world would become a better place…”

1 comment:

  1. "Isn’t it interesting that there are some people you will never be able to please, but you can please God?" - YOU ARE SO RIGHT! Thanks friend! I needed this today! Blessings!