I’ve have been thinking lately how we allow our negative thoughts and attitudes to control our lives. It’s so easy to do. And, it is the opposite of faith–the opposite of trusting God. These negative leanings are automatic and they don’t go away very easily. We struggle wondering if they are true or false, God or self, to keep them or ignore them until we are miserably exhausted. Where, oh where, is the victory, the abundant life, the promises that God has given? What else do I have to do to get free? The answer has to do with what we truly believe.
Years ago when first learning about my identity of grace and freedom in Christ, I realized that God sees me as A-OK because I have received His Son. So if I am A-OK, accepted, loved, forgiven, and free, what do I do with these negatives, with the unwanted actions and attitudes I still see coming out in my life? If God says I am perfect, holy, righteous, and blameless then why don’t I live like it’s so?
The Problem is not me; the problem is what I believe.
I began to realize that the problem is not me; the problem is what I believe. The problem was how I was exercising faith. What we live shows what we believe. We can say we believe something, but if we really don’t, we will not live it. We will live exactly what we believe.
This insight was encouraging to me because it left me as being A-OK. I could continue to process that God’s love and acceptance were real while I continued to “take” that what He says is true. When I did not feel, act, or look like what God said about me, I could exercise faith and take that negative belief and challenge it. “Which is true—what I feel, how I act, or what God says?”
It was very difficult sometimes to exercise faith in what God says.
It was very difficult sometimes to exercise faith in what God says versus believing all the appearances in, through, and around me. But slowly and surely what I believed began to change. When the beliefs changed, it was easier to walk in my true identity as a loved, accepted, forgiven, and free child of the King. What I took, took me.
Taking a truth that does not feel or look true is laborious.
The first step is to have some information of what is true. It might not look or feel true, but if God says it, then it’s true no matter what. The next step is to begin taking that it’s true and, at first, that is very difficult. It will feel like a “work” and our feelings will scream, our actions will look opposite, and our thoughts will go crazy with all the old negatives. Hebrews 4:11 says, “Let us labor to enter His Rest.” Taking (choosing to exercise faith) a truth that does not feel or look true is laborious. While we “labor to enter” we hold on to Jesus as our strength and continue to seek His face, depending on His power in us. Slowly what we take will take us and it will work a change. True rest will come.
Think of it this way: I want to learn to sew or build a shelf or play tennis. At first I have to work on the individual skills and tasks, likely with a teacher or a coach. I might tell you,” I’m taking sewing,” or “I’m taking carpentry;” or “I’m taking tennis lessons.” This is the labor, the hard part. But one day I will tell you, “I’m a seamstress; I’m a carpenter; I’m a tennis player.” What I took, took me.
I encourage you to notice your negative thoughts, your negative beliefs, and what you are really living. This will help you recognize what you really believe. Determine to challenge any lies and take the Truth until it takes you.
For more on this topic, check out my book Living Lessons on Intimacy with Christ.