Becoming a Better Man

I used to be a horrible person. I had honor in one sense – I was always honest – but I was addicted to pornography, swore often, hated myself and disliked most of the people I knew, had serious anger issues, and leaned on people for pity until they distanced themselves from me. Then I would, of course, blame them and myself for things falling apart. I was miserable the vast majority of the time. I wallowed in it until I reeked of desperation, then I wallowed some more.

God’s changed that. I still get down on myself when I’m very stressed, but these times are rarer now and I bounce back often in a matter of minutes rather than weeks. Everything else has either gone away completely or gotten much, much better.

I’d like to think that I’ve improved, but the moment I start thinking that is the moment where I prove I haven’t, for that statement shows that my life is about me once again. When I was miserable, it was because I thought constantly, incessantly of myself and my woes. I could break out of it long enough to have some time with my friends or compartmentalize enough to do my job well, but the thoughts were always in the back of my mind. I tried to do right by others (often failing), but nearly everything I did was at least in part for me.

One thing I’ve noticed since God’s gotten hold of me is that less of my life is about me. When I’m stressed, it’s more about me. When I’m not, I’m free to think of others. 

The less of me there is in my head, the more peace I have.

And isn’t that the thing we’re all striving so hard to find? Jesus had it right when He told us to love others as ourselves. When we’re focused on them and what they need, we aren’t worrying about our own needs. We should, of course, still make sure that we’re tending to our own needs, but the actual fulfillment of those needs is on God if we’re serving Him. We don’t have to worry about it; in fact, worrying about it shows a lack of faith in Him and is thus a sin.

I want to challenge you to spend an entire hour today not worried about what you want or need, but busying yourself fulfilling the needs of others. Be selfless for one hour today. Then, see how you feel at the end of that hour. Do you feel better than you did, or at least, do you feel less worried about the problems in your own life?

It is our selfishness that brings unrest. The more of God you have, the less worrying you’ll do about yourself.

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On Money and Worry

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Most of us would like a little more money…or a lot more money. With the economy still down and improving slowly, many people are without jobs, drawing on either the government or their own savings to make ends meet.

As a guy, I worry about money quite a bit, not in the sense of needing tons of it, but in the strong desire to provide for my wife. I worry about not getting a job, about us having to sell one of our cars or some other possessions to get by, and about what we’d do after everything we can sell has been sold. I worry that she’ll be the only one of us to find a real career job and I’ll be stuck flipping burgers or stocking shelves at 2 AM.

These fears aren’t really justified. My head, that rational part of me that I often ignore, knows that. It tells me I’m an experienced accountant, but just have a rusty resume. It tells me I’m smart, hard working, and skilled, so with determination, I ought to be able to find some accounting or finance job, even as a temp, to spruce up my resume, then get a pretty good job and be a great provider.

My heart counters with its fears and usually wins.

All the while my spirit is trying to tell me that it doesn’t matter because God is in charge anyway. He can do whatever He wants. He can have the winning Powerball ticket blow through the little crevice under our apartment door, give us minimum-wage jobs that are barely enough to scrape by, or anything in between. Whatever His plan is, though, it’s not on me to provide. It’s on me only to obey.

God is a good Father. This means several things:

1. He wants to provide for us.

2. As God, He has the power to provide for us.

3. He will give us what we need, even if it’s not what we want. Just like a good parent won’t let their children have cookies all day, so God won’t give us things that are bad for us.

4. God is willing to give us things we want, but won’t give us things that will take us from Him. When I wanted a wife more than anything, God kept one from me. When I loved Him honestly regardless of whether I was married, He blessed me richly with Leah. God must always be our chief treasure, not a means to our chief treasure.

5. As my King and Employer, it’s on Him to give me orders, judge my work, and pay me accordingly. He doesn’t owe me anything, but He promises to give to us according to our works (Romans 2:6, Revelation 22:12). He is also in charge of the results of our work (1 Cor. 3:6).

6. His blessings are dependent on my walk with Him. Even if I’m obeying Him in His calling, I can do it out of a wrong heart or have other areas of sin in my life. You don’t have to be perfect for God to bless you (or else we’d never get any blessings), but just as a good parent won’t give a rebelling child presents all the time, so God won’t bless you if you are rebelling against Him.

I don’t have to worry about money. In fact, worrying (by worrying, I mean “having anxiety,” not “paying attention to”) about money or anything else is a sin because it shows a lack of faith in God to provide. If I am His child, I should behave as a little child who wants something from His parents.

Imagine you were six years old and wanted a bike. If you had a good father, you might ask him for a bike for Christmas. If he said yes, you’d tell your friends you were getting a bike. In your mind, it’d be a done deal, even though you don’t have the bike yet. You’d be waiting impatiently for Christmas, knowing full well that you’d get what you wanted when the time came. No worries about how your father would pay for it. No fears that he’d change his mind. No stressing that he’d forget about you or decide he didn’t really love you. He promised the bike, so you were getting the bike.

And if he said no, you weren’t getting the bike and you’d have to learn to live with that. You’d still have to obey him and you’d still love him, even though you’d be disappointed and confused.

We are to be that way with God. We are to come to Him with everything, ask Him for what we want, and then let Him make the decision. If He says yes, then it will happen. If He says no, we should still love and obey Him. Under no circumstances should we have any worry or fear that He will let us down, for He loves us more than any human father ever could and He has more power to protect us than we can imagine.

Don’t worry about money (or relationships, health, <insert other stress here>). You have a loving Father who will provide what you need when you ask Him and trust Him.