How often have you asked yourself that question? You didn’t measure up to an expectation, someone else’s or your own. The list can go on and on…you missed the quota, failed the test, offended another, said the wrong thing, stuck your foot in your mouth again. I managed to accomplish several of those things yesterday. I was quick to respond to a precious lady’s comment before I had completely grasped her intent, which I’m sure made her feel more than a little uncomfortable. I quickly realized what I had done and whispered an “I’m sorry”. When bible study (yes, I did this in the middle of BIBLE STUDY!) was finished, I asked her forgiveness again. She very graciously responded, but I still felt the sting of having missed the mark. I drove home having a familiar battle with myself: Why do I do that???? What’s wrong with me – I know better!!
Focusing on my weaknesses is a problem area for me. Perhaps it’s my temperament and personality that take me that direction. Old insecurities are quick to rise when I make a mistake, the perfectionist in me finding any deviation completely unacceptable. Factor in a few influences from the past, both people and experiences, and this can snowball on me if I am not careful. I have learned through the years, however, to quickly respond to this scheme of the enemy with immediate prayer. So as I drove and prayed, I heard the Lord say “Let it go”. (And yes, the Frozen tune came to mind….)
God reminded me of one of the most valuable training principles I learned in my professional sales career: Spend most of your time accentuating and developing your strengths rather than focusing on overcoming your weaknesses. Helping a person discover what their strengths are and pointing them in the direction that will utilize and accentuate their strengths is key to that person maintaining a positive attitude while they continue to learn and grow. It doesn’t mean that weaknesses are never discussed, but more often than not the focus on developing the strengths will greatly minimize, if not completely overcome, the weaknesses.
The person who must foremost face the things they are not good at day after day will lose heart very quickly. They will become discouraged if weaknesses are not easily overcome and this frustration will begin to overshadow their strengths and cloud the possibilities for the future. They begin to identify more with their weaknesses than the things they are very good at. This does not make for a good sales rep, employee, worker, helper, friend, or family member. Or Christian.
Hmmm…what if we applied this professional principle to our spiritual lives?
It has only been in the last few years that I have really grasped the concept of having been given a new nature. We have been given all the strengths that we need to do all that He has created and planned for us to do, yet we live most of our lives unaware of the characteristics we now have. I believe Jesus died not only to give us eternal salvation, but with the absolute intention that we were to live from this new nature while we are here on earth. We have placed our faith in Jesus’ power to save us from sin but live as if we are still waiting to be changed.
To identify with this new nature isn’t to boast or become arrogant. Truly understanding this marvelous grace leads us to humility and a deeper reverence for the sacrifice made. The bible says we’ve been made the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). We live so often like this righteousness comes and goes based on our actions. He didn’t give us righteousness, He made us righteous. Focusing on the fact that we’ve been made righteous doesn’t lead us to sin more – just the opposite! His grace trains us to reject sin (Titus 2:12). It stirs in us a desire to yield to this righteousness more and more, and this submission leads to changed behavior. He does the work!!
The bible most definitely deals with sin and our tendencies to yield to it. We are exhorted to pay attention, instructed to yield to the Spirit rather than the flesh (our natural inclinations), and warned about the plots and schemes of the devil. And this is very important information! But if we are not careful, we are so busy “working” on our weaknesses and trying to overcome them, that we totally ignore the strengths we have been given! We become more identified by our mistakes and weaknesses than the new creatures we are.
God has placed within us His Spirit. His nature has become our new nature and He wants us to live our lives inside-out. I believe that “working out our salvation” means just that – letting what has been put inside us come out! Love, joy, peace, righteousness, power, gifts, forgiveness, holiness and so much more! Focusing on the wonderful strengths we’ve been given is the answer to minimizing and overcoming our weaknesses.
What’s wrong with us? Nothing, if we’ve made Jesus our Lord. We don’t always do the right thing, but that doesn’t define who we are. We have been made like Him. I’ve decided to believe it.