Guest Post by Kendria Smith
The month of May marks my tenth anniversary as a New Yorker. Even after a decade, I can’t imagine life in a greater city than the Big Apple. The people I’ve met, art I’ve experienced, foods I’ve tasted and neighborhoods I’ve lived in are just a few things that foster my appreciation for city living. Of course, as many know, it’s not without its drawbacks. There are certain things I’ve had to do without in order to thrive (or more like survive) throughout the years, i.e., personal space, a car, disposable income, peaceful nights, to name a few.
I’ve also come to look at my life as a Christian in the same light. Although I grew up in a Christian home and really came into my faith in college, it’s only through time that I’ve grown to understand the daily choices I make to follow after Christ. These decisions have a direct effect on my spiritual development. In Galatians, Paul reminds us that we are crucified with Christ. Therefore, if He lives within us and we are a new creation how are we reflecting it in our lives?
As Christians, here are three things we need to remind ourselves to relinquish every day in order to grow deeper in faith:
No matter who you are or what you believe, no one can see the future or has the power to control every aspect in life. Try as we might to plan ahead in an effort to hedge against the worst, we are all susceptible to factors that can lead to some form of hardship (illness, job loss, financial struggle, relational conflict, etc). On the flip side, the concept of being in control of our lives and “masters of our own destiny” would lead us to believe that when all is right with the world and we’re at the top of our game then we are the ones who deserve the glory.
We are reminded in the Word that God is in control of every situation. Proverbs 19:21 states “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.” This verse reminds us to hold our plans loosely and when things don’t turn out the way we hoped, there is a choice to make: We can waste our efforts in worry of what’s to come or live a full life expecting God to do more than we can hope or imagine. Good or bad, we may not have control of what happens, but we can control how we respond.
It can be a harsh realization for many believers that God is not concerned about our comfort, although how we are feeling at any point in time is usually at the forefront of our minds. Growing up, my parents consistently reminded me that “Christianity is not for cowards.” This stood as a blanket statement for the many times I would come to them with the infamous questions that I, myself, knew there were no quick, clear answers to: “Why would God allow this situation to happen to me?” “When will this situation come to an end?” The real answer: Character Development. Through our conflicts come maturity, yet no one wants to focus on that when they’re in the midst of a trial.
As Christians, our job is to continue to become more and more like the character Jesus portrayed on earth. This is what the world needs to see every day through our lives. How we develop this character may not always be to our liking, but one thing we can take comfort in is the eternal promise in John 16:33 where Jesus proclaims, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
One of the enemy’s biggest ploys is to feed us our past iniquities in the present to watch us destroy our future. Although 1 John 1:9 says that if we confess our sins God will forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness, we still must fight every day to renew our minds against…ourselves. Why is it so important to forgive ourselves? First of all, as much as our goal is to become more like Jesus, we will never be perfect. Knowing this, God sent a perfect substitute in our place. So why waste time living in condemnation instead of grace?
Secondly, condemnation makes us feel unqualified for living out God’s purpose for our lives and reach beyond ourselves to support others. There’s nothing the enemy wants more than to paralyze us by making us question our self-worth and identity in Christ. So when that critical voice begins to cloud your better judgment, fight by speaking out these words of truth declared in Romans 8:1: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
What are the areas you still need to learn to let go of in your walk with God?