Do you ever feel like your Christian life like a roller coaster ride?
Through a series of slow climbs you reach a point where you have a sense you’ve done the things you believe God is expecting from you.
You’ve been praying, studying the Bible, telling people about Christ, helping people out and often gone the extra mile. It’s tiring, but you are determined to do what is right.
Once on your high point the inevitable tragedy occurs again (like it does every time).
You feel guilty and condemned because you realize you’ve been doing what you shouldn’t have done or you’ve not done what you should have done.
But for some reason you have a strong motivation to get back on the ride so you seek forgiveness and recommit yourself to keeping various spiritual disciplines hoping and believing this time will be different – after all you are really determined to change and grow.
Yet, deep down you feel like you want to get off the ride once for all but you’re afraid you’ll upset the cart and spoil the ride for everyone else if you do.
You are not alone.
There are many people who are either down in the dumps of quilt and condemnation or on some kind of high based on their zealous dedication to keep certain promises.
The vicious cycle explained
In his book Grace Walk, Steve McVey calls this a “vicious cycle moving from motivation to condemnation to rededication.”
Why are so many Christians stuck in a cycle of motivation-condemnation-rededication?
It’s when you believe living the Christian life depends on you. Sure, God’s there to help you, but you believe it’s your effort that counts in the end.
Your intentions are good, but your focus is misplaced!
At the root of this cycle-issue is the false belief that says, “God expects you to please Him by living the Christian life.” In other words, you belief that you need to live a Christ-like life.
The truth is that God is not expecting you to live a Christ-like life!
Only Jesus Christ can successfully live a Christ-like life.
While on earth He lived a perfect life and fulfilled the requirements of the law on your behalf. He then placed Himself in you, as you. And because He is fully pleasing to the Father and He is the perfect Law-keeper in your heart you don’t have to try to please God by keeping certain rules, requirements or expectations.
Thus, your heavenly Father is not expecting nor asking you to live a Christ-like life in your own strength by doing good and avoiding evil. Rather, He invites you to allow Christ to live His Christ-life through you!
Our Grace walk isn’t a demand to imitate Christ but a free Gift of Jesus living His life through us.
If you are trying to live up to some personal expectation of what it means to please God, then you’re living under the law, thus trusting in your efforts to reach your spiritual goal.
A law mindset says, “God expects me to live right, therefore I must read the Bible, I must pray, I must be a good witness, I must love my neighbor, I must be generous, I must be faithful in order to live a life that’s pleasing to Him.”
As a result you try to be the best Christ-like version you can think of.
In this scenario you’re left with two possibilities:
If you succeed, you will be filled with self-praise (religious pride).
If you fail, you will feel self-pity (condemnation).
In either case you’re walking in the flesh trying to make things happen in your own strength.
Maybe you know what it’s like to be trying hard to do something for God, only to end up feeling guilty for doing what you should not have done or not doing what you should have done.
You try, you fail, and then you feel condemned. You withdraw a bit, see the futility of staying in your self-pity party and then rededicate your self to God.
You confess your shortcomings, ask God for forgiveness and rededicate your life to Him. You re-commit yourself to keep spiritual disciplines, whether it be reading the Bible in a year, or getting up early to pray, or witnessing to someone that day, etc. You ask God to help you keep your promises and to be consistent this time.
And so you to try to be the person you think you should be. However, there’s always a wide gap between where you ought to be and where you are.
And no matter how hard you try you never seem to become who you are meant to be.
Before you know the cycle starts all over again. You’re moving from motivation to condemnation to rededication.
Beloved, this is not your portion!
Next week I’ll share the key how to break free from the cycle of motivation-condemnation-rededication. So that you’ll be at a place of no more false MOTIVATION. No more CONDEMNATION. No more REDEDICATION.
But to live free. And live your life to the fullest!
Click here to go to part 2.