We all tell little white lies… Probably everyday. And some of us more than others. A quick google search will reveal some of the most common lies people tell:
“I’m on my way…” When you’re actually just getting out of the shower.
“I’m only 25…” When in reality you are 30!
“I’m in a relationship…” Your dog doesn’t count.
“Cute dress…” Not!
“I’m not drunk… I’m just buzzing.”
“Everything’s fine… I’m fine.” But are you?
People lie all the time. In fact, I’ve known several people who lie for no reason at all… A little white lie here, and another there. They think they aren’t harming anyone, but in reality they are harming themselves, because they end up losing everyone’s trust.
But more dangerous than lying to others is lying to ourselves You might be able to get away with lying to others, but the lies you tell yourself will certainly catch up to you. I remember being in high school and finding out that I wasn’t going to be starting on the basketball team anymore… And in my mind I told myself it was because the coach had it out for me, not because the new players were actually better than me.
When we lie to ourselves, we often place ourselves in the best light and everyone else in the worst light. Because the problem couldn’t possibly lie with us. It must be someone else’s fault. And as a result we destroy relationships, quit jobs, move away, or gossip about others.
But in reality, the fault lies with us. No amount of running or re-directing will fully deal with the lies that we believe about ourselves. And when it comes to Jesus, the enemy wants us to believe lies about ourselves and Him as often as possible. Shan Wood recently pointed out four lies that Judas Iscariot (the one who betrayed Jesus) believed that led him down his own dark path of self-deceit and betrayal:
We convince ourselves that there is no God. And justify selfish behavior.
We don’t think God is worth following. And lose our purpose in life.
We believe God doesn’t care. And turn to other things for fulfillment.
We believe God can’t love us. And enter into deeper levels of depression and negative self-worth.
All of these are damaging lies that we tell ourselves. They keep us from fully experiencing Jesus and delighting in His love and power. And when the enemy has us believing lies about God, he can convince us anything about ourselves, our friends, and other people. It’s the oldest trick in the book and he’s been using it since the Garden.
So what do we do? If we are prone to deceive ourselves and believes lies, how do we overcome the lies? One preacher says, “If the devil’s greatest weapon is a lie, then you and I need the truth.” So here’s how you combat the lies that we so often tell ourselves:
Psalm 8:3-9 — Everything you see on Earth has a Creator.
Philippians 2:5-11 — Jesus gave up Heaven to save you.
1 Peter 5:6-7 — He wants all of your burdens… Because He loves you.
Romans 10:10-13 — Everyone can be saved when we trust Jesus.
Don’t fall into the trap of believing the lies about yourself and about God. Lean into the truth of Scripture and cover yourself with God’s love, care, peace, and concern for you. The Psalmist says in 139 that God created you, God knows you, and God loves you. No matter what thoughts or lies may come into your head, hold onto God’s overwhelming love for you.
It might be one of the most dangerous prayers you can pray: God, give me patience. So often God’s response is not to give you more patience. Rather, He gives you more opportunities to be patient; sitting at the RMV, the waiting room at the doctor, the desire for a new car, the want of a new house, or standing in a long line at the grocery.
About a year ago I read an article that zeroed in on the most important skill to develop if you want to be wealthy someday… Any guesses? The ability to delay instant gratification. Which, living in the American society we live in, is not an easy skill to obtain.
Companies are experts at convincing us into the latest technology, gadget, or status increasing purchase. But more than that, they convince us that we need it now and if we wait too long, we will be obsolete and out of style. We want what we want and we want it now. However, researchers have discovered that the ability to pass up smaller rewards now almost always leads to larger rewards later (Source).
And if this is the case when it comes to purchasing stuff, how much more important is patience when it comes to following God? Shan Wood recently said,
Being patient is a direct expression of your faith. It’s a measurement of how much we actually trust God.
Yikes… That’s pretty scary when I consider how impatient I can be. But it is still true. I think when we rush into things, we rush into them because we fear missing out (FOMO!). Maybe you’ve had thoughts like this before:
I’ll marry him because nobody else will love me.
I’ll leave this company after two years because they will never promote me.
We’ve tried three times to start a family, but I guess God is mad at us for something.
I’ll just find new friends because she will never change and I don’t want to wait on her.
This house is outside of our budget, but it’s the only thing available now.
You see how we often convince ourselves to act now because we are scared of the unknown that lies ahead? Fear based decisions are never good. But they are easier. However, the hard work of following Jesus requires patience and trust. It means believing that His reward is worth giving up something good now for something greater later.
So before you make an immediate decision, can I suggest three quick questions that might slow you down and help you practice patience?
Question #1: What is the cost?
Every decision we make will cost us something… Money, a relationship, integrity, opportunity. For example, when you rush into buying a house, not only are you spending lots of money, but you’re also sacrificing the close proximity to neighbors that you’ve developed friendships with over the years in your current apartment. While that may be okay with you, did you ever think that God put you in that apartment to serve and love your neighbors to Christ?
Question #2: Will it add lasting value?
Sure, switching companies may provide more money, but is the boss a good person to work for? Will you have flexibility to be a present spouse or parent? I know lots of people who have lots of money, but their work and family life is miserable. Or maybe you’re ready to ghost a friendship… Will having that person out of your life really make life better? Will the avoidance and awkwardness of seeing them in town make that much of a difference in your life?
Question #3: Why right now?
If you’re mad at someone, does cutting them out of your life right this minute really make that big of a difference? Are you ready to give up, in a moment of anger, years of friendship (both past and future) because you don’t have the patience to work through the conflict? When we make impulse decisions, we make poor decisions. Sleep on it. Talk through it. Reflect on why you want to make the decision now.
As followers of Jesus, we are all trying to get better at waiting on God… It’s certainly not easy and requires some intense self-discipline. But it’s worth it. The reward later is far greater than the pleasure now.
Comment below and let us know how you practice patience!
I’m not a big fan of corny religious memes… In some ways they are the new church signs (I saw one that said, “Sin burn is prevented by Son screen”). I mean c’mon… That’s bad. Maybe you like them, and that’s okay. But they aren’t for me. And I will almost always make fun of them.
I also get annoyed when someone posts a meme, and then says, “Share by 3pm and receive a blessing from God,” as if God is some genie in a bottle that we can control. I get even more upset when someone says, “Share this… I WILL BE CHECKING.” Really? We are threatening people now?
But I’m also not a fan of the corny religious sayings because I usually don’t agree with them. Here’s one I came across with a scenic background this week:
“Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe, and have faith that everything will work out for the best."
Hmmmm… Since when does following Jesus ever require turning my brain off and not thinking? When does following Jesus ever require me to lose my creativity and wonder? And what about when things don’t work out for the best?
I know this means well, but this one really irked me. It irked me because I know many of us actually live our faith this way. We too often use faith in God as an excuse to do nothing.
I don’t need to budget… I have faith.
I don’t need counseling… I have faith.
I don’t need AA or the meetings… I have faith.
I don’t need a plan… I have faith.
I don’t need to get a job… I have faith.
And understand me, I’m not knocking the incredible risk associated with faith… But our heroes of faith were not ones who sat back and let life happen to them. They were people who actively engaged alongside God to push the mission of God forward. God has called us to work alongside Him, not sit back and watch Him do what we ask.
This week at church we looked at the story of Nehemiah rebuilding the walls. And there is very small detail that I came across thanks to Chuck Swindoll… Check this out:
I said to the king, “If it please the king, and if your servant has found favor before you, send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it.” Then the king said to me, the queen sitting beside him, “How long will your journey be, and when will you return?” So it pleased the king to send me, and I gave him a definite time.
Prior to this interaction, Nehemiah had prayed, but then found himself waiting for four months for the right time to approach the king… Finally he had a chance. And thank God he didn’t spend the last four months just sitting on the couch “having faith” that God was going to rebuild the wall with the snap of His fingers. Rather, Nehemiah must have been using the four months to plan, wonder, imagine, and think about how he was going to rebuild the walls because he gave the king a definite time.
Nehemiah, though he had great faith in God, still had a plan to move forward once God opened the door. And this in no way diminishes the faith of Nehemiah because he rebuilt the wall in 52 days! God was working through his faith. He still had faith and reliance on God, but he wasn’t passive. He didn’t turn his brain off. Rather, his faith was active.
I don’t know where you’re at in life, but don’t believe the meme. God has given you talents, abilities, and intelligence to live with an active faith. Don’t sit back and wait for God to move… Rather, plan ahead and get ready for when God does move.
To quote Chuck Swindoll again:
“Don’t tell me you have faith, if you can’t tell me your plans.”
If you believe God is calling you into something, how are you planning to join Him in making it a reality?