I am my own worst critic. I get down on myself and start to go over all the things I have done or have not done when I come before the Lord. As I was praying this morning, I cried out and asked the Lord God to make His will my will. I have no will power whatsoever. I find that the more I try to do something, the less I do of it. Then the endless cycle begins and over and over again I am telling the Lord I am sorry, and asking for His forgiveness. As I was in my usual sorry state of repentance a few words popped into my head, they were, “the will of God for you.” This led me to a revelation of how I am my own worst critic, and how God wants me to come out of that habit and into a better way which He has laid before me.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19
As I read these words, I wondered how these could apply to what I am struggling with in regards to my constant screw up of this walk of faith. There are two ways to define “the will of God”. The first is His determined and purposed desire to do something. The second is what God wishes to be done by us. The first “will” is a purpose that God has laid forth, like when He says “I will” (see blog post titled He Will for further explanation) strengthen you, I will help you, etc. He is determined with purpose to fulfill something in your life. The second however, is different, which is the context in which Paul is writing to us. The “will of God” that Paul is referring to is what God wishes we would do.
God desires for us to live full of joy, always in constant communication with Him and giving thanks in everything. God does not want us living in defeat; He wants us to be happy, to be glad and full of joy. There is no room for gloom in the life of a Christian. God desires that we look at it from His perspective, from the positive and not the negative. When I get on my “woe is me” kick, what I am doing it looking at myself through my own eyes and not the eyes of God. He wants me to rejoice not only in the good things but in the sorrows of life as well. “The Christian can rejoice always because their joy isn’t based on circumstances, but in God. Circumstances change, but God doesn’t.” (David Guziak)
God also desires for us to live in constant communication with Him. We are to pray without ceasing. This doesn’t mean that we walk around with heads bowed and hands folded 24/7, but it means that we know and acknowledge God in every moment of our days. When we talk to others, we know that God is with us in the midst of the conversation. When we work, we have God with us, when we cook dinner, we have God with us. This reminded me of a book I once read titled, “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence. He constantly talked to God. He was a humble man who knew that God was always with Him and talked to Him throughout his daily life. (A must read, if you have never read it) We too should be in constant communication with God. God desires to live in joyful communication with us, and us with Him. It is His will for us.
God also wants us to be thankful. Charles Spurgeon said, “When joy and prayer are married, their first born child is gratitude.” Paul is not writing to us to give thanks for everything, but in everything. We have reason to be thankful, no matter what the circumstances, struggles or trials we find ourselves in. You are a child of God, you have been saved by grace, and you have been given eternal life; just to name a few. We can find a reason to be thankful, in everything. “We recognize God’s sovereign hand is in charge, and not blind fate or chance.”(David Guziak) We recognize that no matter what happens, no matter what comes our way, God is God and He is in constant control. We can be thankful for that.
When we become our own worst critics, we are looking at our flesh to lead us. When I begin to get down on myself, and begin to focus on all I am not, then I am no longer focused on Christ but myself. God already knows you’re a sinner, He is fully aware that you have screwed up, yet again. He doesn’t need to be reminded of your failures, He already knows them. He doesn’t want us to remind ourselves of them either. When He wants us to repent of our sins, He will convict us. When He wants us to turn from the sins we are committing, then He will convict us and lead us into repentance and make the necessary changes in our hearts. He doesn’t need me telling Him I’m a screw up, because He is fully aware of all my short comings. He doesn’t criticize us, who why do we find it necessary to do it ourselves?
When we rejoice, and pray and give thanks in everything our thoughts, emotions and hearts will follow. His will for us, His desire for us to live as Paul has shown us will put our focus back on Jesus and take it off ourselves. Whenever we begin to criticize our own selves, we fall into the trap of the flesh. We practice in the flesh, and no longer in the Spirit. David Guziak writes that the “thought is not ‘this is the will of God so I must do it,’ but rather, ‘this is the will of God so I can do it.’” God wishes we would just grasp a hold of these basic principles for daily living and let Him do the rest. He wants us to do it, because He knows that we can.
The last thing Paul tells us is “Do not quench the Spirit”. God does not want us to suppress His divine influence in our lives. We do that when we get on our “woe is me” kicks. The minute I start focusing on how worthless I am, the less I see God and the less I experience God. One of my first Bible Study Teachers used to say, “Get out of yourself!” She wanted us to realize that when we start focusing on all we are not, then we no longer are focused on all He is and all He desires to be for us. We are our own worst critics, but God wants us to look at Him and not at ourselves. He knows we are messed up, full of sin and deceit. He doesn’t need us to remind Him, He sees even before we do.
Instead, we are to rejoice, pray all the time, talk to God at every opportunity and give thanks for all that we have, and all that He is. When we do this, we will take the focus of ourselves and put it back on Jesus Christ where our eyes need to be. We need to get out of ourselves and get back to Jesus, the only one who was willing to die for us wretched, worthless, screwed-up, messed up sinners! Amen and Amen.