In spite of all our prayers asking God for His help and His intervention in our lives, there are a lot of things that we ourselves have control over.
Sometimes we don’t like to hear that, because it makes us responsible to do something. If you’re like me, sometimes you want God to move your mountain for you, you want Him to charge down from heaven and change things, you just want to cry out, “Help me, Lord!” And thankfully, help is often available. But much of the time, we want Him to “fix” things in our life, when the power is all ours.
So, to me, it’s good news that I have control over some things; that I am responsible for the fix, not someone else. That means I can decide. I’m not a victim, I’m the one with the power – Jesus gave it to me! (Luke 10:19).
I’ve been thinking about four things in particular that we have control over – four things we can stop in our lives, and four things we can start.
1. STOP worrying, START trusting. This is more than just a good idea – it’s actually a command from God. He says in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything!” Wow, that almost sounds impossible, doesn’t it. But if the Bible says it, we can do it. That scripture goes on to give us instructions: “…instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.” And there’s a reward! “If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus” (v.7). Proverbs 3:5,6 says it this way, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. Remember the Lord in everything you do, and he will show you the right way.” When we worry, we won’t find answers – when we trust, God shows us the right way.
- STOP hoarding, START giving. Hoarding comes from one thing: fear. When we hoard (hang onto, pile up, hold back) anything -- whether it’s money or food or things or whatever -- it’s because we’re afraid of not having enough. But let’s refuse to be afraid! Our God is El Shaddai, the God who is more than enough; He’s Jehovah Jireh, the God who sees ahead and provides. And the way we tap into all that provision is by giving, not by hoarding. “Give, and it shall be given unto you…” (Luke 6:38). “He who sows bountifully will reap also bountifully…” (2 Cor 9:6). God’s system is the opposite of the world’s system, and I want to operate in His system, where every need is met, don’t you? (Phil 4:19). So let’s be givers, not hoarders.
- STOP being prideful, START being humble. Every time I read 1 Peter 5:5 I shudder – and then I check up on myself. It says, “…be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want God to resist me – I want and need more of His grace! He gives me more when I humble myself. Proverbs 22:4 says, “By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches and honor and life” and Titus 3:2 says, “speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men.” I love it when God shows us exactly how to tap into His benefits.
- STOP holding a grudge, START forgiving. This just happens to be the subject of my next book coming out in the fall, so it’s fresh on my heart. The only way I know to get free from painful things that happened in your past is to forgive. Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other guy to die – it’s not hurting them, it’s only hurting you. Forgiveness is how your relationship started with God – it’s how He makes new creatures; you became born again when He forgave you (Col. 2:13). Jesus has forgiven you everything – He showed you how, and now He requires forgiveness from you as well: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32). Forgiveness is a life of freedom for you.