The War Against Yourself
I’ve heard a popular statement that goes:
“You are your worst enemy”.
Your biggest critic is yourself.
Have you ever written a test, got the results, and thought “I could have done better if I had spent more time studying"? So you work hard on the next test, score above average, but fall for the “I don't have to study hard because I can expect good grades, after all, I’ve been attending my 07:30 classes faithfully, the entire semester. My attendance alone will get me through it”. We can already imagine the level and weight of disappointment. It’s like going to write an end year exam at (Inserts the name of the one test venue that gave you chills) without being prepared.
A standard is not a standard unless you are willing to suffer for it - Dharius Daniels.
Sometimes we might find ourselves in a place where we have set an unrealistic expectation and struggle to live up to it daily. In our own capacity trying to love and serve people daily will test you in every way possible. The keyword is daily. It’s hard getting up in the morning when you know you have plenty of things to do, it’s usually very easy when you have absolutely nothing to do. It all starts in the mind. From the moment we make the choice on what to eat all the way to the time we set apart to pray.
Disown the need to always be motivated
“Discipline is the only way to get things done“.
I would like to suggest that if we think discipline will help us love God and serve others without Christ, we will struggle. We cannot love Jesus when we are motivated to. The sad truth is that motivation is not consistent. It’s a terrible indicator of a relationship that is not founded on a solid foundation. Jesus is not motivated to love us. He is not obligated to do so either.
He loves us because He is love.
Jesus states a hard saying in 1 John 4:20
"If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?"
This often knocks the socks off the roof, because this challenges our human tendency of selective “liking”. That is the tendency to say - “I can choose who I love unconditionally”...
Paul has a few words of wisdom to share,
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law” - Romans 13:8
We continue to read in 1 Corinthians 13:2 where Paul says “If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing“. This is what he is saying, it means nothing if we try to do things without love. This exposes a selfish tendency to performance and brings light to God desires for us to do all things in love for Him and others. We are not only commanded to love others as ourselves but we are commissioned to go out and seek to love those who need to experience the love of Jesus.
In Matthew 16:24, Jesus speaks to the disciples and says,
"Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me”
To follow Christ is to abandon that which comes naturally for all of us and that is to sin. It means letting go of my ways of doing things and taking up His way of doing things. Forgive others 7x7, love others as yourself, my personal favorite turn the other cheek in Matthew 5:39. (I highly recommend reading this entire chapter) This will often perplex the human mind, challenge views and mindsets but Jesus modeled love for others, showed us how to forgive. He lives up to the standard and shows us how to do it as well.
Fighting a thought with a thought will cause head-aches.
We cannot encourage ourselves enough to pray if we don't have a clear understanding of why we need to. We cannot motivate ourselves enough to be intentional about pursuing Christ if we don't understand that we are in need of Him. We will fail to hype ourselves up every day to love Jesus if we lack understanding of what He did on the cross.
We will always be at war with ourselves when we strive to do better on our own.“We don’t fight a thought with a thought, we fight a though with the Word of God” - Willem Nel.
During a time of war king Jehosaphat prayed to God and said in 2 Chronicles 20:12 “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We do not know what to do, but we are looking to you for help”.
How often do we look to God for help when we up against an enemy in this case, how often do we look to God for help when we are struggling with our thoughts?
The army that was up against them can be seen as a metaphor for the thoughts we confront, sometimes it can seem like we are fighting against thoughts we are powerless to but this is what the LORD said to Jehosaphat: 'Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's.
When you are confronted with thoughts waging war remember:
The Word of God is our sword and shield.
A freeing truth comes in knowing that Jesus also went through tough times but encourages us not to lose heart. A famous lockdown philosopher once said, “tough times never last, only tough people last”.
The key to doing better is found in this response “yet not my will, but yours be done" Luke 22:42.
Jesus willed for the Will of God above His own even when the trial He was about to face was going to be the hardest one.
Victory against the war waged within ourselves can be won when:
we will for the Will of God to take place above our own.
"Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day". 1 King 8:61