IN CHRIST WE CONQUER OURSELVES
This past Saturday, I found myself in a place that I have never been before. I had a verbal disagreement with a friend that got so heated, that I vowed to never have anything to do with the person again. I felt I had been hurt so much by this friend, who in turn felt just as strongly, that they too had been greatly hurt by my actions. Yet, though both of us were eager for the other person to appease us and address our hurts, neither of us was willing to apologize. So, we went our separate ways: angry; hurt; indignant.
Then the Lord spoke directly into the depth of my soul through the sermon the next day in church.
My entire life, I have gauged my limits (emotional, mental, and physical) on what I believed “I” could bear; “I” could understand; “I” could tolerate, “I” could change; On what “I” was deserving of or not deserving of; the things “I” could give. It was always based on “me, me, me” or “I, I, I”. Yet, every single day, I walked around proudly calling myself a Christian; saying I “walked in Christ”, praying for God to direct my steps. Claiming that I no longer live for myself, but live for Christ.
But the Lord revealed to me through His Word on Sunday, if I truly live in Him; if I’m truly emulating Him, then how can everything I do or don’t do still be centered around me? How can I continue to base “my capacity” on “me”.
If “I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength”, then, how can I place the words “I can’t” before anything that I declare???
If as a Christian, I ask God to forgive me my trespasses “AS” (meaning simultaneously) I forgive those who trespass against me, how can I find it difficult to say “I’m sorry” or refuse to speak to someone??!
If I am being as selfless as Christ was, who died for my sins, how can I not endure suffering on account of my fellow man? Even suffering at the hand of my fellow man?
I don’t know why anyone else suffers with these issues, I am here today to tell you why I have always suffered with these issues:
I have always given to people as much as I believe I receive from them. Or, I have reciprocated what I believe that they have given to me. Bottom line, I’ve always had a threshold based on what I believed was my “limit” where people are concerned. Therefore, if I believed I was being treated unfairly, in response, I would either pull back my affections, or become defensive. But God told me that He has instructed me to stop measuring my threshold based on what other people do or don’t do; say or don’t say; give or don’t give. He told me to look to Him for the reciprocation that I required from people. The Lord instructed me to give as is required of me in every situation I find myself. He instructed me to be give of myself in friendship; give of myself to my spouse; give of myself in service; give of myself to “my neighbor” no matter how they treat me; and most importantly, to do all of this giving to my fellow man with no expectation of reciprocation from anyone except Him!
We often apply this bible verse:
Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.
very literally. We apply the slapping to confrontation, the tunic and cloak to the taking of material items, the miles to effort and service and the borrowing to finances. inasmuch as they can be applied literally, they truly apply to everything a person can regard as unfair and unjust treatment of themselves. Think about it, they are all situations where one would naturally be compelled to consider and protect themselves, and/or expect the other party to consider them and change their behavior.
That is and has been my greatest cry of injustice to my spouse, my friends and to anyone who has anything to do with me. I am deeply offended when I don’t feel “considered”. It makes me feel cheated, slighted, neglected, and abused. But this weekend, the Lord instructed me to completely do away with my expectation of consideration. “Desire to do my will” He said to me. “Do my will. ‘I’ will consider you”!
The realization; the assurance; the source of the promise; and the administration of it by the Holy Spirit, broke me down. Everything I had always used to “sustain” myself, came crumbling down like a deck of cards.
I was broken. Completely.
It was in that state of brokenness; in that very moment, on that very spot, that I surrendered myself to Christ. I surrendered myself in the nakedness of my imperfections; in the nakedness of my weakness and inability to change though I have tried time after time to do so. In my tears, I said “Lord, I surrender myself as I am. Please, help me do it as YOU require, not as I require”.
It was also in that very moment; on that very spot, that He too, began to rebuild me.
When it comes to total transformation in Christ, and being “born again”, Matthew 19:25-26 tells us:
“When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, “Who then can be saved?” But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Total surrender to Christ is simply an acknowledgement that living in the flesh, in our own strength, of our own way, we are as good as conquered.
But after surrendering and asking Christ to take control, Christ renews our mind so that by His Spirit, we have the mind of Christ. Christ lives in our hearts. We live in Him; in His strength; according to His way. Then, on only then, do we become conquerors.
It is only the Spirit of Christ that can conquer Satan and every force of darkness.
All this “I, I, I” and “me, me, me” has nothing to do with Christ. It is of Satan.
1 Peter 5:8 says:
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
Ephesians 6:12 says:
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Genesis 4:7 says:
If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.”
It is in our “I” and “me” state that we create avenues for sin to creep in, guided by Satan who waits patiently for the slightest opportunity. So, brethren, if any of our thoughts, actions, or utterances are not in line with the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self control, then quite simply, they are not of Christ.
If we feel that are being depleted in a relationship where the other person can’t seem to make us as happy as we’d like to be, the Spirit of Christ tells us to do everything in your power to make that person happy, and look to the Lord for your happiness.
If you find yourself constantly on the receiving end of gossip, rumors, false accusations, jealousy and envy from other people, don’t look to defend yourself to those people, look to God who always protects those who place their trust completely in Him. Then pray for those people, so that they too, may be delivered.
If you are struggling with any shortcoming: low self esteem, depression, anger, self righteousness, indignation, pride, unforgiveness, stirring dissensions, jealousy, envy, covetousness, contention, a judgmental attitude, a critical attitude, a loose tongue, insensitivity, alcoholism, addiction, a lover of strife, selfish, and a host of others, pray to the Lord to reveal your vice to you. This way, you can surrender that vice to God, and then He can begin your transformation.
Brethren, we can’t become conquerors in Christ until we have been conquered in our flesh.
Since my personal testimony is a part of this piece, I just want to share with you that there is nothing more liberating than shifting every single expectation from man onto Christ. The peace is unimaginable. The peace is the immediate reward. The lesson is that I am fully responsible for desiring to obey and taking active steps to obey Christ in dealing with my fellow man. The ultimate reward: It is Christ’s promise to me that as long as I do that, He will personally take care of me, and give me ALL that I need.
It’s a one step at a time process. But the comfort is that in every one of those steps, once we truly surrender, Christ goes before us; Christ goes with us, and He’s always with us no matter what trials come our way. There’s no better feeling than the knowledge of the creator of the entire universe, walks with us personally through every step of our journey.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Romans 8:37)
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Share your thoughts that you might encourage your brethren.
The handmaid at His feet.