Don’t Get Discouraged!

by Lester Young

Have you ever been so disgusted with yourself you just couldn’t stand it? Maybe you were committing some clear-cut sin. Or maybe you were doing something that in and of itself might not have been “wrong,” but nevertheless you’d been sensing the Lord didn’t want you doing it. Or perhaps you’d simply been trying to kick some bad habit. But whatever the situation, you seemed to find yourself continuing to do it. Despite your most sincere ‘I’m-putting-my-foot-down-and-that’s-all-there-is-to-it!’ resolution to yourself, and even after some short-term success, a toe from the very foot you set down gets caught and trips you back into the same behavior you thought you were finally free of. You’re frustrated, disappointed, hurt… and you can feel every jagged-edged tooth as your conscience chews you up and spits you out in little bite-sized, semi-digested chunks along the sidewalk of your day.

I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there. Unfortunately, many are still there; others will be back there again tomorrow or perhaps next week. With each new attempt and subsequent failure the weariness and discouragement grows… until a thought like this one actually starts to sound as if it’s making sense: “What’s the use of trying anymore? I’ll just fail again. Obviously, I can’t do it.”

If this is describing you then be happy, because I’ve got a Word from the Lord for you today: “Obviously, you can do it.” What does He mean by that? Well, since He’s already said, “I (meaning you) can do all things through Christ Jesus” – and God can’t lie – it must mean you’re just looking in the wrong place (John 17:17; Philippians 4:13).

Listen, if you’re born again, whatever you’re doing, if you’re trying to do it on your own – that is, by your own natural abilities – you’re looking in the wrong place. God never meant for us to live by our own power or wits; that behavior and mindset are actually under the curse (Genesis 3:17-19; 11:3-4). Those who’ve received Jesus as Lord and Savior are supposed to live by faith: faith in God’s Word – His promises (John 1:1; Romans 1:17; Hebrews 10:38).

But to be perfectly honest, living purely by ‘faith’ is not something that’s going to come naturally to virtually anyone in this world. It’s a lifestyle that must be “installed” into you. In other words, you’ve got to learn it – and you absolutely must practice it. You can’t think and operate the way the rest of the world thinks and operates, and the only way to countermand that is to renew your mind to the way God thinks, acts and operates (Romans 12:2). That’s why we’re told to grow up into – that is, become just like – Christ in every facet of life (Ephesians 4:15). We all know that growing up takes time, plain and simple. We should also know that becoming something other than what our current actions suggest we are takes effort and continuous practice (Hebrews 6:11-12). And so we need to keep in mind that we probably aren’t going to automatically get things exactly right the first two or three – or four thousand – times we try them.

So yes, we all have to grow into Christ. But do you realize that Jesus had to grow into Christ, too? (Let me finish my statement before you throw that rock, okay?) Certainly I’m aware that Jesus always was, is and forever will be the Christ – the Anointed One, the Messiah (Hebrews 13:8). But because He divested Himself of all Divine privileges and came here subject to the weaknesses of the human condition, Jesus the ‘man’ had to learn and grow up and grow into the ‘role’ of Christ to which He’d been appointed (Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Peter 1:20).

Now I’m not saying Jesus ever missed the mark and sinned as He was growing up, because He absolutely didn’t (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19-20, 2:21-22). But because He was a man, He did indeed have to grow and increase and progress in God’s wisdom and grace (Luke 2:40, 52) – and that, by definition, means He didn’t begin in the same place He ended up; the place where He needed to be to do what needed to be done. Jesus intensely studied the Scriptures of the Old Covenant, spent significant time in prayer, learned the ways of God His Father and put those things He learned into practice – the very same way He expects you and me to grow and increase and progress in Him (Matthew 16:24; Luke 2:46-47, 6:12; 1 Corinthians 11:1; 1 Timothy 4:15; 2 Timothy 2:15; 1 Peter 2:21).

It took the Lord Jesus thirty years before He was fully ready to step into His Ministry – and He made no mistakes along the way. Now if that’s the case, I think we ought to be able to step back a little from beating ourselves up just because we’re not quite where we want to be after a whole thirty days of trying. I’m not saying we should excuse our sins or that we shouldn’t demand and expect the best of ourselves at all times. But I am saying that when we do fall short of the mark, although our behavior may be personally disappointing to us, we nevertheless should call to mind that the precious Blood of the Lamb Jesus was shed for the express purpose of wiping that sin out of existence and restoring us to a ‘right’ relationship with God our Father (Romans 3:22-23; 2 Corinthians 5:21). And because of that, we can go on in Him with a clear conscience, striving to reach His ideal without being beaten up by waves of condemnation (Philippians 3:12-14; Hebrews 9:12-14). So always, always, always remember this: If you’re feeling condemned, you can be absolutely sure it’s Satan who’s talking to you, not God. ‘Condemnation’ is not from God; He’s not condemning you. Satan is the ‘accuser’ – the condemner (Revelation 12:9-10). God’s the One Who sent Jesus to save you from being condemned! (John 3:17-18, 8:11; Romans 8:1) Yes, it really is that simple.

I’ll leave you with this thought: If you’re in Christ Jesus, regardless of how disappointed you may be feeling about yourself, God’s not disappointed in you – He knew what He was getting into when He called you, and He’d already decided you were well worth it – and He’s not condemning you, either. As a matter of fact, as one of His kids, He’s well-pleased with you (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11). You’re not alone in your troubles, and you’re not expected to overcome them on your own (Matthew 28:20; Revelation 12:11). Just remember Who’s dwelling inside you, and use your faith to draw from His strength (John 14:16-17; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; 2 Timothy 1:14). If you continue to do that, you’re sure to get where you’re going just fine (2 Peter 1:10; Jude 1:24). So look up… and don’t be discouraged!

 

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