As you’ve probably already experienced there are hundreds of blog posts going up about how to be a better you in 2017. The goal of these posts is to encourage people to move from where they are to where they could be. This is a good thing. The problem however is that they can be overly generic, moralistic and tend to have an unhealthy focus on self. So while I wish you a great year and hope it is filled with joy and success, the reality is many reading this will not have a great year and not due to any fault of your own. Some will get that job; others will lose that job. Some will gain a loved one; others will lose a loved one. Some will get into that uni-course; others will miss out. Some will begin a new relationship and others will end a relationship. Welcome to life in a broken world.
Rather than trying whip you into an emotional frenzy by boosting your ego I thought maybe I could help take the weight off you trying to be God’s gift to mankind and point you to the one that truly is great. Here are 4 truths based off Tim Chester’s book ‘You Can Change’ that can change your year.
1. GOD IS GREAT – Therefore you don’t have to be in control!
You will stress out this year. You’re going have moments when everything feels out of control and it’s going to freak you out. That’s ok. It’s normal and we all experience it. The question is – why do we freak out so much? Well it’s because we believe the lie that we’re supposed to be able to control everything. I always like to say, ‘Worry is the worship of self gone bad’. What I mean by this is that we make ourselves the centre of the universe. We become convinced of the cultural narcissistic narrative that we are able to be all things and do all things. In other words we worship ourselves. We prop ourselves up as though we were God. This would be ok if we could pull it off but we can’t. Nor are we meant to. Worry is the emotion that cries out from inside to highlight to us that we’re unable to achieve this immaculate standard. Our self-worship has gone bad because we are not living up to the standard we hold for ourselves – GREATNESS! We want to be great which in and of itself is not necessarily a bad thing. We have great value and worth as human beings but we were not designed to be able to control everything. You worry and stress because you hold yourself to a high expectation that you cannot meet. You say to yourself, ‘hey you’re supposed to have everything under control and you’re not doing a very good job of it. I can’t trust you with this’
So what do you do when you begin to lose control? How do you respond when the uncontrollable plunges itself right into your lap? One thing you can do is turn to the one who is great and is able to control all things. Take the pressure of yourself this year by worshipping God rather than yourself. Turn to Him in prayer and supplication. Acknowledge your inability and your need for help. Put your trust in the God that is great. (Ps. 86:8-10; Ps 145;3; Ps 115:3; Ps 147:4; Job 23:13)
2. GOD IS GLORIOUS – Therefore you don’t have fear others!
I don’t know about you but I’m a people pleaser. Nothing makes me feel better about myself than having the approval of friends and family. It’s an unfortunate truth but it’s the truth. I’m insecure and constantly need affirmation. The Bible calls this the ‘fear of man’ (Prov. 29:25). Throughout scripture fear is closely tied to the idea of glory. To glory or to fear is to place value and worth onto someone or something. The greater the value or worth something is to you the greater the glory you give to it. Another way to think of it is that the more glorious something or someone is to you the more weight they carry. The more influence they have on you.
A simple example of this for me is my wife. Her opinion of me carries far more weight in my mind than that of my neighbour down the street. Why? She is more glorious! Her thoughts are more valuable to me. They are worth more. They have greater influence.
What about God’s thoughts towards you? How valuable, worthy, influential are they on your life? Maybe this year rather than giving more weight to what others think of you, you allow God’s words to be more glorious to you. When you feel unloved and rejected what if you consider the fact that the one, who holds the universe in His hands, loves you with an endless love? Rather than reject you, He has ransomed you, pursued you, adopted you, and is committed to you unconditionally forever. When you can’t forgive yourself for past mistakes, allow God’s forgiveness to reign supreme. God is glorious! You don’t have to allow the words of others or yourself to define you in 2017. (Ex. 15:11; Ps. 8)
3. GOD IS GOOD – Therefore you don’t have to look elsewhere!
You are designed to experience pleasure and you live with a sense of dissatisfaction. God’s desire is that you would pursue that which He made to truly satisfy. The problem is in our brokenness we often run to the wrong things. Ecclesiastes tells us that God has placed eternity into our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). You may have heard it put that there’s a ‘God shaped hole in your heart’. I agree it’s a little Christianese cheese, but it’s true. God wants you to pursue that which is good, that which truly satisfies your soul.
The Bible portrays following Jesus as a life filled with joy. Jesus is not the prison warden making sure all the rules are being followed and everyone is kept locked up. Rather He is the rescuer setting everyone free. He breaks the shackles that bind us and he brings the true and lasting satisfaction our soul longs for. This year turn to Jesus to satisfy you. Don’t look to greater prosperity; don’t look for increased power; don’t look for more pleasurable experiences or growing popularity. These things aren’t necessarily bad. But they can be if we pursue them to satisfy – because they can’t. God is good. He satisfies. Therefore you don’t have to go elsewhere. (Ps. 16:11; Ps. 135:3; Ps. 100:5; Ps. 34:8)
4. GOD IS GRACIOUS– Therefore you don’t have to prove yourself!
The human default position is to earn and prove. We spend our lives trying to earn approval and love from others and proving we are worth something. When we speak of God being gracious we mean that God gives to us unconditionally. It is impossible to earn His love or prove to Him that you are worth something. It doesn’t matter what you do, how hard you try or how much better you can be. He loves you and is for you. You don’t have to prove yourself because God is gracious. He doesn’t change. He is no more happier with you on your best day or unhappy with you on your worst day. It’s what makes Him God. We may be up and down and all over the place with people depending on the circumstances. Not God.
This means you don’t have to beat yourself up every time you stuff up. You don’t have come under the weight of trying to impress everybody else, crossing your fingers and hoping they actually like you. Rather you can rest that God loves you, is for you and with you. You can live in His grace that gives strength, security and a solid foundation to build your life upon. So live a life of effort this year but put behind you a life of earning. When you live from a place of earning you’ll always be bound because you are seeking to get. When you get what you want you’ll be happy but when you don’t you’ll be miserable. However when you live from a place of grace you already have what you need and are now free to live a life of giving. There’s no subconscious strings attached. You’re truly free. No more proving, no more earning, just more freely giving. God’s grace is that good. It’s why we Christians call it good news. (Ps. 86:15; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-10)
All the best for 2017
Check out some further resources below from Tim Chester and others on the 4G’s