devo 3, week 1 of the GIVE UP series

When is the last time you sat down and made a list of goals?

Whether you have them written down, posted on your mirror, included on a recurring to-do list, or they’re just swimming in your head, you definitely have them. Our everyday behavior is shaped most by what we hold dearest. What we hold dearest, or value the most, determines our goals, whether stated or unstated. So you got ‘em.

Now, how about listing them out?

  1. What are your personal goals? Health? Career? Spiritual? A bucket list even?
  2. What about your goals for your relationships? Marriage? Dating? Kids? Friendships?
  3. What are your goals for your kids, if you have them? What do you hope most for them?

Let me say up front, I am not condemning any of the following. I am simply giving them as an example for consideration, as well as a chance for us to not live in default and according to the status quo. But, if I may, let me ask a few pointed questions (pointed at me, too):

  1. Were all of your personal goals, well, just personal? How many of them would you classify as “beyond self?” As Kingdom of God kind of stuff?
  2. Were all of your goals for your relationships about what you get out of the relationship or what you put in? I mean, if you are not married, for instance, do you have an expectation list of all the requirements of your spouse, or have you made a list of what you must bring to the marriage and how you must give love away in order for that precious relationship to make it?
  3. Were all of your goals for your kids about how they need to be poured into and served and prepared, or did that preparation include pushing them to live daily a life of love and generosity? What if being last might actually mean being first?

I have often asked myself whether I really believe Psalm 37:4.

4 Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

Today, what about praying this prayer – “Lord, please teach me what it means to delight in You, and please expose in me the ways in which I only delight in myself.” And then listen (which means to keep praying). Let’s see what He tells us.

Look at the contrast of this verse as compared to Psalm 37:4. It’s Matthew 10:39.

39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

If we “delight” in self, then we eventually will lose everything we do gain, everything we cling so tightly to, all the stuff we value so much more than relationships. Why? It makes sense doesn’t it? You value stuff more than people, and you will know only loneliness even amidst all the people there to leach off of you and live high on your stuff. And, as the title of the play I was in in 10th grade so aptly says, “You Can’t Take It with You.”

Our desires when only focused on self produce lives that sow only into self, which reaps a life that is only about me. Where does that get you in your marriage, in your relationships, with your co-workers, with your neighbors? Alone. It leaves you alone.

What if our personal pursuits are stealing life from us, because they are not cultivating life in others? What if our personal pursuits are enslaving us to the pursuit of our own desires and possessions, because condemnation is always the verdict among humanity when our actions are solely focused on self?

Look back at Matthew 10:39. How merciful and gracious is God that He does not leave us to die in our own pursuits. Instead, He came near to restore us to His intentions – lives of love for Him and love for others. He frees us from ourselves. I noticed a quote the other day from Tullian Tchividjian that read:

God comes after us not to angrily strip away our freedom but to affectionately strip away our slavery so we might become truly free.

And we are truly free when we surrender. You actually gain when you “give up your life for [Jesus].”

Why are you following Jesus? For your own gain? If you are, then you are not following Him. You are using Him. This coming Sunday morning, we will dive into that question and be challenged to GIVE UP OUR INTERESTS, praying for Jesus to change our motivation.

ACTION STEP:

  • PRAY_Lord, please help me. I want to give up my life to You and into others. Teach me what “gain” really is to You. Help me to GIVE UP MY GAIN, for the sake of the gain of others. and ultimately of Your Kingdom.
  • LIVE_now, whatever He says to you, whatever He teaches, obey. Say yes. And trust that you won’t miss out on a thing.

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