Sunday, November 21, 2010

Overcoming Unfounded Condemnation

I'm reading a book for one of my classes right now...it's called Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership, by Gary McIntosh and Samuel Rima. It is definitely one of the best books I have ever read. I'm finishing up chapter 17 right now, which discusses the Scriptural description of grace that frees us from the expectations of others. One of the Scripture passages discussed in this chapter is one that I have been looking at quite frequently lately, and I have felt like there is something there that I'm just not getting. After reading this chapter...I get it!! (The passage is Colossians 2:16-23.)

As Christians, we believe that the God we believe in has revealed Himself personally in Jesus Christ. If we really believe this, then we must view our relationship with God in light of what Jesus taught about Him. And Jesus taught that in Him we have freedom to live in right relationship with God without worrying so much about unbearable expectations and legalistic demands that are not Scriptural, but are placed on us by others.

Read this verse in light of this freedom:
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).

Imagine that...living a holy life is not impossible and unbearable! Of course, the following comments from McIntosh and Rima should be kept in mind:

"Obviously there is a corresponding responsibility that comes with God's grace and freedom. We are not to exercise our freedom at the expense of another believer's spiritual well-being. We are not to use our liberty as a license to engage in unrestrained freedom that leads to sin. ...However, as long as we do not allow our exercise of freedom to lead to the violation of express scriptural prohibitions and principles or to cause the destructive offense of an immature believer, we are free to enjoy what God has provided."

I have spent pretty much my entire Christian experience in fear that I was falling short of God's and others' expectations of me...in fear that God was waiting anxiously to send me straight to hell because I just can't seem to attain human perfection.... And in this, I think another Scripture is applicable, once again, to show me that all these unfounded expectations are not to be a burden to me anymore:

"There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).

God, help me to live according to Your expectations, as expressly stated in Scripture, and as revealed to me by Your Holy Spirit...and no one else's. Help me to grasp what it is to really be free in You. Help me to be free from fear...of failure, of disappointing You, and of not being able to accomplish what You have set before me. Thank You so much for Your wondrous love and GRACE!!

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