Want Growth? Stop Trying!

September 27, 2012

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What?!?

Are you promoting a lifestyle which allows sinful behavior as long as it is not the really bad stuff?
What about being intentional about growth?
Isn’t change about making the right decisions and avoiding pitfalls and weaknesses in our personalities?

While agreeing with all the above objections, I have a question.

What makes these objections unique to Christianity?

Nothing.

You will find the same self-help mantras in all religions or even the lack of religion. These could be tenants of humanism or atheism.

What makes growth in Christianity different?

It’s not trying harder. Everyone does that.

“Pull up your bootstraps and act like a man.”
“Make wise choices.”
“Don’t surround yourself with the wrong crowd.”

True, but not unique.

The way people grow as Christians should involve aspects of these truths.

Growth, as a follower of Christ, cannot be separated from God’s grace. 

Henry Cloud and John Townsend inHow People Grow: What the Bible Reveals About Personal Growth speak of seeing grace as more than the forgiveness of sin. Grace, meaning unmerited favor tells us that God is on our side. He is for us and wants to help us overcome our sin. Since grace is freely given, this means it cannot be earned but only received.

We cannot “try hard enough” to merit God’s gift of grace.

More than “merely” forgiving us, God wants to help us. He gives us the power to overcome the issues and struggles in our lives.

How often have we tried to “suck it up” and just try harder. If trying harder was the path to growth, we would have an awful lot of perfect people running around.

Trying harder may work for a season, but it is not lasting. Many times, the harder we try, the worse things get.

We end up discouraged, frustrated, and ready to quit.
Putting on the mask of “having it together” leads to stress and burnout.

When we come to the end of ourselves and our attempts to succeed or please God, then we begin to trust in His grace.

Paul in Galatians 5 calls this “living by the Spirit“. This is a life of trust and dependence. The same way we received salvation is the way in which we walk it out. Cloud and Townsend call this “avoiding the tendency to keep Jesus as Savior only.”

Yes, he is Savior.

But so much more.

2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us…”

Of course we still obey.
By all means, flee temptation and improper circumstances.
Be a continual learning, investing in your own growth.

Through His free gift of grace, God has given us everything we need for life and godliness!

We cannot save ourselves, and we are unable to grow purely in our own strength.

Stop Trying. Start Trusting

How many of you have found more failure than success in trying harder? Share about it.

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Chris

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A missionary teacher for 24 years currently living in South Africa. I am a recovering superhero, daily in need of the grace of God