Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Answer the Question

WOMEN OF GOD: look for your joy and sufficiency in Christ - not in yourself, not in your man, not in your looks, not in your career, not in your children/family, not in your accomplishments, not in your spiritual gifts, not in your service, and not in your hopes or dreams. Christ is your all.
After posting this status last night, I received an e-mail from a beautiful friend who said basically that while she appreciates the sentiment behind these words, she longs to know how this attitude should play out in daily life: 
I know I am being difficult here, [but] what does that look like?... I know it will look different from woman to woman with our different circumstances, talents, and age, but Ruth, I am like what Paul says about himself [in Romans 7:15-20]. How do I keep my eyes on Jesus?  How do I find my joy and contentment in him?  How do you?
I'd like to continue this conversation today not only by sharing my answer to this question, but also, more importantly, by opening an avenue for any of you who would like to chime in, because I think my friend hit the nail on the head when she said that the scenario would be different depending on circumstance.

As a single adult, I personally have no struggle with finding my sufficiency in a man/children/family because I don't really have that temptation in my life (although some singles I know don't feel complete/sufficient because they're not married, but thankfully God has given me epic grace in that area). I do, however, face the temptation of finding my worth and value in my accomplishments. It's a struggle for me not to seek validation in what I do, in how my teaching is recognized, in what I write, what gets published, where I publicly succeed, and so forth. 

I've started asking God to remind me daily that even if what I say/write/do just touches the few friends that I interact with, then I'm fulfilling God's leading in my life. 

Of course accomplishments aren't bad, publishing isn't bad, and the satisfaction and pride of a job well done isn't bad. However, I know my tendencies, and so for me this is a huge inner struggle. 

I think the point here is that my struggle in finding my sole sufficiency in Christ is in remembering that my worth and value is found in what he is in me, not in what he may or may not choose to do through me.

I think each Christian needs to be aware 1) that finding worth/value/sufficiency in Christ--and thereby reflecting him to the world--should be the conscious goal for every believer, 2) that we all struggle with how this should look, 3) that not all struggles will be in the same areas, and 4) that we each need to open ourselves up to the revelation of the Spirit, asking him to reveal to us the areas in which we've been relying on something other than Christ for a sense of worth and value.

Also, remember that the more we make God's values our own, the less this question will loom in our minds. Daily mental, spiritual, and emotional re-calibration through Bible study and prayer is essential for keeping our eyes off the temporary and on the eternal. 

In the end, as my friend said, how this truth will play out in our lives will differ from person to person. The key here is not to take less joy in the people, blessings, gifts, and skills that God has given us, but to ask him to remind us that all of this abundance is not an end in itself, but flows directly from him (James 1:17) in order to give us new avenues to glorify him (1 Cor. 10:31). He is the ultimate source. 

4 comments:

  1. Gratitude and Humility - I am in need of some epic grace. (I am a greedy guts)

    The struggle of what he is in me vs what he does/doesnot do through me is a hard one for me too.

    Thanks Ruth. <3

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    1. It's something that most of us know intellectually but need to strive daily to know by experience.

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  2. I feel like I'm just at the very beginning of truly being able to live in the truth that Christ is my all. And what has brought me to that point is being able to see Christ's constant pursual of me--regardless how much I "have it together" and regardless of the fact that I didn't really believe He was pursuing me. In seeing this, the only response that makes sense is to give myself to Him and Him alone.
    Practically speaking, I find that journaling and re-reading journals helps me to do this.

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    1. Thanks for your input, Elizabeth. In having a discussion with a friend about this topic yesterday, we came to the conclusion that opening ourselves to the revelation and guidance of the Spirit in these matters means opening ourselves up to the recognition of how we've been failing in the past. The key is to see these moments of recognition not in shame ("I'm a failure!") but in humility and grace ("An opportunity to become more like Christ!"). This isn't easy, and I think your point about re-reading journals is a good one. Sometimes I read things that I wrote a few years ago and think, "Really, Ruth? I mean, REALLY?!" In this way, I'm able to recognize a lack of grace in what I thought at the time was a perfectly acceptable reaction.

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