[Written on 112812- while on a spiritual high after seeing Shane Claiborne speak, and then having an extended time of devotion/meditation]
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” ~Heb 12:2
The Christian life is a race. In a race you can’t think about how weak you feel, how tired you are, but you ignore those thoughts and just keep running. Otherwise you start to dwell on them and then think how to soothe the pain: “just slow down a little, you can still win, or maybe you can go all out to win a later race.” No, this is the only race we have to run.
Likewise, don’t even entertain negative/depressing/pessimistic thoughts, because once you allow them in, you inevitably start to dwell on them and then on how to soothe them, aside from God. When in reality God is what you need to soothe them. And He will soothe them if you give them to him.
Negative thoughts are never from God. Why would he ever have reason to put a negative thought in your mind? What good does it do? Does it increase your faith? Make you more in love with Him or others? Make you more likely to share the gospel or serve?
No. Never. Negative thoughts are always from the enemy.
Some argue that they aren’t pessimistic, they’re just being realistic. “I’m a realist.” But since when does God want us to be “realistic”? Is the Holy Spirit’s intervention in our lives realistic? Is the supernatural realistic? No. God has told us to hope beyond hope (Rom. 4:18). Have hope even when it doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem realistic. After all, we really do have something to hope in that should trump all our current circumstances (salvation from sin/judgement, God’s presence and bliss in Heaven, the love and peace of God, the promise that all things work for our good).
“And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.” ~1 Cor. 13:13
This is what you’re supposed to believe is realistic: that you have to do it yourself, you’re helpless, God won’t supernaturally intervene for you, he won’t give you a supernatural filling of peace, you’re left on your own to fight for your whole life trying to survive (finding happiness, not in God but in food and entertainment and your job and comfort). But is that really more realistic? Of course not. But the enemy plants the thought in your mind and once you entertain it, your emotions embrace it.
And yet this kind of thinking directly contradicts Jesus’ whole attitude on Earth, who said: “Do not be afraid anymore, only believe.” ~Mark 5:36, Luke 8:50
Just stop the introspection and live! Just keep running!
Believe that God is good and really does love you! Believe that He will actually keep the promises He made to you in the Bible. Believe that if you resist the devil he WILL flee from you. Just try it and see that it actually does work. It gets easier each time, and the first time’s always the hardest.
When that little man in your head starts nagging again just tell him that you aren’t listening today, and keep running the race. If he starts up again later, then tell him again and ignore him again. Who is he anyways that you should believe him instead of God? Instead of listening to him, listen to God. Embrace the love, peace, truth and goodness of the things of God which he wants you to embrace.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” ~ Col. 3:1-2
Look up, not down.
Be others-focused, not self-focused.
(But don’t become judgmental towards others as you focus on them, be judgmental of your own sin first.)
Be others-serving, not self-serving.
You can’t change others, so don’t try to change others. Only God can change them, so ask God to change them. And leave the ball in His court. Or does He not truly care for them more than even you do?
Ask that God would create a time of silence in their lives when they can hear Him clearly, hear what He wants to say to them, and ask that He Himself changes them, according to His will, in His timing. That’s if they even do need to be changed the way you think they do.
Don’t criticize others; encourage them.
If you’re convicted about an area of their life, judge yourself in that area first. And then let God change them. If they’re to be changed by you at all, let it be by your love and their own love for God, and His spirit drawing them, convicting them so that they change by their own choice, by the Spirit’s enabling.
And remember that while the Christian life is a race, it’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Think only good things all the time.