We have been working through a book called Search for Significance by Robert McGee (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003). After establishing that our foundational significance comes from God (being made in His image, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, chosen before the foundation of the world, and adopted as a child of the King), the author asks two questions.
First, “What do I have to do in order to feel good about myself?” This points us to where we actually draw our significance. If we are resting in the Truth of our being Sons and Daughters of the King, we don’t need to add anything to “feel good” about ourselves. Our true source of stability, significance and “feeling good” is not what we do, but who we are in Christ.
God does want us to have satisfaction in a job well done, pleasure in doing what is right and joy in good relationships, but none of these are the source of the significance and worth that flow through a correct understanding of who we are.
As I honestly evaluated this, it became clear that there are a lot of items on my “to do list” which are there so I can feel good about myself; that is, my motive in doing them is wrong. These are things like: get up early, have a good quiet time, pray through my list, don’t eat too much, exercise enough, and be nice to everyone around me.
All of these are good things, many of which I am responsible to do, but they are not to be the source of my significance, stability or sense of goodness. I must switch my motive from doing these to feel good, to doing them because I love the Lord and want to obey and please Him.
My wrong motives point to the disparity between intellectually grasping a truth and the deep implementation of it in one’s life. The way out of this is to be aware of the tendency to look for significance in the wrong areas and to counter it with Truth. Memorizing verses that give God’s viewpoint, such as, “Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” (Col 3:12), and “Chosen before the foundation of the world, accepted in the beloved…” (Eph. 1:4)—the meditating on them, certainly helps to internalize it. When trying to decide what to do, examining my motives and rejecting the wrong ones also helps.
The second question is: “Are you a ‘have to’ person or a ‘want to’ person?” If I can grasp my significance in Christ and rest in that, then I will “want to” do those things which are pleasing to Him, not “have to” do them in a legalistic, self-saving way.
This is part of the freedom of the abundant life Christ is calling us to: knowing who we are and, as a result, acting in obedience to Him for the right motives rather than just to make ourselves feel good. There are several very important consequences that flow from this.
First, instead of being pushed by the inner drive for gaining significance through getting this or that done, we can listen more quietly to what the Lord wants us to do.
Second, we can be more willing to do the unpleasant but necessary things that do not bring us any sense of significance.
Third, since we do less, (having eliminated the unnecessary “have to” things) there is more time to do well the things God has for us.
Fourth, flexibility, grace and kindness can replace the harried, nervous, pressured attitude of the “have to” Christian.
These things I am learning. It reminds me that my walk with Christ is one long and wonderful process of growth, deepening and transformation. And we can constantly praise God for His wonderful, unending patience with us in it.
Prayer: “Lord, help me to regularly check my motives before you so I can deepen my rest in the significance you have given. Help me to be a “want to” believer, not a “have to” one. May I love you through obeying your Truth. Amen