It's difficult to transform or renew when our focus is on self instead of on the incredible God we serve.
And let’s face it, we all need to be reminded we aren’t God! We may have power in our home, at work, have incredible skills, have strong opinions, and get things done, but we need to be continually humbled by remembering God's authority and our lack of authority in this world.
As we seek to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, it's not just important to remind ourselves of God’s authority, it's also important to remember the character of God. You don’t want to just view God as this big God with all the authority, and we are his little puppets.
We need to balance the view of His authority with His character and how He works out His authority.
God is faithful, possesses a steadfast love, delights in you, gives you refuge, is your salvation, delivers you, provides for you, is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in love, is in your midst, rejoices over you with gladness, exults over you with loud singing, is for you, gave himself for you, is holy, is just, is love, and we are His children.
The list of His characteristics could go on forever! For some reason, His authority over all things tends to be pretty easy to believe, but certain aspects of his character, if we are honest, are a little bit more difficult to truly believe as we walk through our day.
Your life will reflect which characteristics of God you truly believe and which ones you don’t.
Do you stress when your kids are out of your sight? Maybe believing God is their protector and truly loves them is difficult for you.
Do you get worried or anxious about finances? Maybe your heart is struggling to believe God will provide and take care of you.
Are you waiting for God to punish you for past sins? Maybe you are only focusing on God’s judgment and not truly understanding how much God loves you and forgives you.
Our behavior can reveal to us which characteristics of God are difficult for us to believe.
We see an example of why we continue to have difficulty believing in God’s character in the example of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19.
This wealthy religious man who loved God and did everything God asked of him approached Jesus and said in vs 16 “What good thing must I do to get eternal life”.
This man is asking about salvation, but for those of us that have accepted Christ as our savior, we tend to ask a similar question of Jesus all the time. Only instead of eternal life, we substitute “what good thing must I do to gain peace, financial stability, contentment, joy, unconditional love, forgiveness, self-control?”
We forget there is nothing good except God. Only in understanding that God is good can you discover that your deeds will never be enough.
Instead of choosing to BELIEVE God is peace, we try to figure out the good thing we must do to possess peace. We look for hoops to jump through, for outward activities, for anything “good” that may help us find the peace we need. But there is nothing good except God. God’s character IS peace, and so He alone gives us peace.
In Matthew 19:20, this rich young ruler struggled the same way we do. He’s looking for more and so Jesus tells him to obey all the outward commands. The man responds, “All these (the commandments) I have kept...what do I still lack?” This young man tells Jesus he has perfectly followed all the commands in order to follow God, but yet he still feels something is lacking.
Can you relate? Are you following God as well as you know how but something appears to still be lacking? The adventure, the fun, the abundant life promised?
When there are parts of God’s character we don’t really believe, we can feel that lacking.
In Mark 10:20, we see Jesus look at this man, saw his striving and the desperation to figure out why it wasn’t good enough, and Jesus looked at him and LOVED HIM.
Because Jesus loved this man, He revealed to the man what was lacking, what was keeping him from experiencing true relationship with God. On the outside it did not look bad. He was a great guy. But personal wealth had become his identity, his power, his sense of meaning in life.
He made wealth the god of his life, and Jesus, looking on him with love, tells him what the man lacks is true relationship with Jesus. Jesus asks the man to believe he alone would provide. Not the man’s wealth. Not his power. Not his money. Jesus asked him to not allow his wealth to be his god, and believe Jesus is who He says He is.
Many of us are like this man. The rich young ruler went away sorrowful because he couldn't stop worshipping the god of his heart. His behavior demonstrated what he believed. This man did not believe God was going to provide the way his own personal wealth would. He did not believe the characteristic of God as a provider was going to play out favorably in his own life.
Do you believe the same way? Does your behavior demonstrate that you don’t truly believe certain characteristics of God?