Let’s Watch God Work!
A friend writes: (Excellent! I have something that I’d love to see a blog on.)
Do you ever notice how we, although imperfect beings, tend to have MUCH higher expectations of ourselves than we do others? We “excuse” others because we know that “nobody’s perfect,” yet the same behavior in ourselves is absolutely inexcusable. Why is that? Why do we do that? Why are we so much harder on ourselves than we ever would be on others? I’d love your thoughts on that.
My thoughts? OK here goes.
We all hate grace. The brain is so designed (by the Designer) that grace is built into our neurotransmitters. Follow the owner’s manual and you will never burn out or feel stress beyond what you can bear. He promised. The list of how we waste our neurotransmitters is a list of acting outside of grace.
Hating Grace, I:
- Vex my spirit, ponder endlessly, feel tense over things I can’t control, resenting my weak estate.
- God brings the consequences of past choices, tells me how to respond and offers power to do the right;
- then I choose, either to rebel or to get out of God’s way and yield my body members to obey;
- then God brings to consequences of my choice (blessing or curses) tells me how to respond and offers power to obey etc.
Not much control there. Just enough choice to bolster accountability and free will, but not enough that I am tempted to take credit. The only thing I did was to get out of God’s way and let him work.
- I am way too surprised when I mess up, because I really think that God got a pretty good deal in me; that I was already a cut above. “I can’t believe that I did that!”
This always wears me out by getting me to take on responsibilities without God and beating on myself after the inevitable, frequent mess-ups.
- I use negatives to motivate.
- I refuse to ask for help or beat myself up if I have to.
- I moan and groan and make mountains out of mole hills.
- I try to balance my guilt with blame and excuses which just weighs me down.
- I fuss about a problem and immediately yell “but, but” to any suggested way to deal with it.
- I stuff my feelings.
- I procrastinate and try to ignore problems, which takes energy to suppress.
Exhausting! Why don’t I just rest in grace?
This is called shame-based motivation
- I compare myself with how well I did in the past,
- I compare with the unrealistic fantasy of how well I expected myself to be doing by now,
- I threaten myself with the dire future my current messed up approach is likely to reap,
- I compare myself with the false front others show me of their accomplishments;
- I compare with pointless accomplishment of others such as material possessions, fame, power, or worldly praise;
- I use rules to judge myself that are more severe than I would apply to others in the same situation. (I call this negative arrogance).
All this because I don’t want to accept that my worth doesn’t come from me but entirely from God’s love PERIOD. I would rather earn my worthlessness than accept infinite worth from God.
Remember your high school math. Infinity plus 100,000 merit points is still just infinity; infinity minus 100,000 demerits is still infinity. As the Father did not spare his own Son but freely gave him up for you, how will he not, with him, also give you all things? This says that your worth is infinite and can not be increased or diminished by your behavior.
The worldly counselors know that shame-based motivation does not work. Only those thoughts that lead to answering the question
What does God want me to DO right now in his strength?
will not lead to burnout. If I see that I have messed up, I can go to God ask for help and grow. If I conclude that I am a piece of dirt how do I “dedirtify” myself? So, worldly counselors affirm that you are innately worthwhile and should believe in yourself and what the mind of man can conceive the will of man can achieve. This is nonsense but close enough to the truth to be seductive. The truth?