The question of the week was sent in from a girl who has struggled and fought against sin. She wrote this:
I love God but I have lost that fire. How do you forgive yourself and feel desirable by God again? I feel like such a hypocrite and have promised change so many times to God I feel like my word means nothing.
The life of a Christian is one of faith and repentance. The only way we’ll make it through this crazy mess if we learn to let our failure drive us to believe more and fight harder instead of discouraging and distracting us.
That can only happen when we start listening to God more than ourselves. Our struggle with forgiveness and our inability to move on from failure is a direct result of a heart where our voice is louder than God’s.
We need a God-centered view of self, forgiveness and mission.
1. A God-centered view of self. In the passage I read yesterday, Aaron and Miriam are kind of whining about Moses getting all the fame and God calls them all into a tent. The voice of the Lord descends and He says – I speak to Moses mouth to mouth; I show Him who I am. How do you dare speak against someone who has been touched by my glory?
His point is that when they speak against Moses they’re not insulting Moses they’re insulting God.
When we speak against ourselves, we’re insulting God. When we say that we’re not capable of being used, we are actually saying that God’s Spirit is ineffective and useless. When we say that we are not going to grow, we are actually saying that God is a liar when He says He will change us.
And when we say that we are not worthy of forgiveness, we look at the Cross of Christ and call His sacrifice insufficient and irrelevant.
Because of the Cross, Jesus’ life is our resume now. When I sin, His resume doesn’t waver. It doesn’t change.
If my failure makes me feel like I am less valuable or worthy to God it’s a great opportunity to ask myself if I’m finding my identity in Jesus’ resume or my own. Do I want my life to be one that testifies that my resume is my source of joy, hope and comfort?
2. A God-centered view of forgiveness. Sometimes we hear all that from God, but we still feel lousy. We still want a real live person to say to us – it’s okay. you’re forgiven. God’s voice isn’t powerful enough in our lives to change how we feel. We want other ‘louder’ voices to confirm our worth is in tact.
In Psalm 51 after David has wrecked his life by killing a man and stealing his wife, he says his sin is against God alone. Were other people ‘wronged’ in this interchange? Sure. But David means that every evil he committed against any person is primarily evil because it is an act against God.
God is the giver of forgiveness. His is the only forgiveness that gives us worth. His is the only voice that gives life.
I don’t think we would say it, but somewhere deep inside, I think we believe that our inability to forgive ourselves is actually something that makes us seem gracious and humble.
In actuality, it’s our proclamation to the universe that we believe our voice is more authoritative than the voice of God in our lives.
3. A God-centered view of mission. Every Christian knows or will come to know the challenge of continuing in ministry or mission after sin wins a round. Sin makes us feel like hypocrites.
I struggle with discontentment, lust, pride, anger, self-pity and a million other things, but does that mean I shouldn’t talk about what God says about those things?
Should I only blog or teach on things I’ve ‘mastered’? Should I close my computer until I have greater victory in those areas? Maybe. But then this blog would be a lot less authentic, a lot less real and there would be a lot fewer words that resonate with others who are getting tossed around in the same storms as me.
At the end of the day there’s only one reason I’m not ashamed to talk about things I’m not great at or even good at. It’s called the Gospel. It’s the only qualification in my whole freaking life.
I can’t promise God I won’t fail Him. I will fail Him. But this whole thing is not based on my promise, it’s based on His.
He’s promised me He won’t fail me, so I know He won’t. He’s promised me He’ll use me, so I know He will. He’s promised me sin won’t win this thing, so I’m not afraid of sin.
I get to be His voice box and His hands and feet, not because I’m cool or neat or talented, but because He picked me – stutter and all.