How do we as followers of Christ overcome the seemingly invincible giant’s that spring up in our lives?
If I were to ask something like, “Think of a couple things in your life you know you shouldn’t be doing from a Christian perspective, or things you believe or at least suspect might be taking up too much of your time and drawing you away from God.” If we are being honest with ourselves, I believe almost any follower of Christ who reads that would immediately think of several things.
For some it might be just the business of life and not making time to read God’s Word or talk with God. For others it will be more direct and obvious, such as an addiction to pornography or alcohol, having anger management issues, unforgiveness/hatred, etc. Yet still for others it will be a more insidious and perhaps a less obvious issue, such as pursuing a career or political causes, etc.
Now, to be clear, I’m not saying there is anything wrong with pursuing a career, or being involved in political causes, or being busy, etc.
Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also,”, what I AM saying, is that if our heart and the focus of our lives are on something other than Christ, that is a problem and we are going to miss out on the life that God has planned for us, a life that is FAR more rewarding and purposeful than anything we ourselves can dream up and attempt to pursue.
Shame and guilt over indwelling sin will hinder our relationship with God, and if there are things in our lives we know are separating us from God we are called to war against them and overcome them. This might be a bit counter-cultural for today’s ‘Christianity’ which focuses on the: “God loves you and has forgiven you so you don’t need to really do anything just try to be ‘good’.” message. Now, it is very true that God loves us and has forgiven us, but we are ALSO called to righteousness and purpose and development in Christ, not to stagnate or remain ‘unchanged’. The transformation that takes place as the result of following Christ is one of the more prevalent themes in the New Testament and simply can’t be ignored.
If you are not aware of anything in your life, I encourage you to ask God to reveal the hidden things of the heart and I can guarantee He will bring something to your attention. I also encourage you not to make the mistake that you have ‘arrived’ and have more or less no more development in Christ to do, as I think that’s essentially an impossibility. Once we overcome one giant, if we are pressing into Christ we will I am confident be confronted with another, victory over each one leading us into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with God.
If you read the letters to the Churches in Revelation, every single one talks about overcoming. Overcoming the culture of the day, overcoming our pride, selfishness, ambitions, complacency, tolerance of sin, etc. There are no shortage of giant’s in our lives today just as there wasn’t in their lives back then…
One man’s Goliath as it were will be dramatically different from the next person’s. We all have our struggles and things in our lives that need work, I think anyone who claims that isn’t the case is only fooling themselves.
Pornography is a huge issue especially in men, but while one person might have that struggle constantly haunting and looming over their life, the next will have no issue with pornography whatsoever, and for them it might be the pursuit of money that is their giant they need to face and overcome.
I also urge you to not think that just because you don’t struggle with something that means are you are more ‘spiritual’ or disciplined or a ‘better’ Christian than the next person who does struggle with that issue. It’s easy to look at another person’s Goliath and say “That’s simple to overcome.” and just dismiss the person as being weak-willed, not a good Christian, etc. if it has never been an issue for you. We are called to support and encourage and exhort our brother’s and sisters in Christ, regardless of where they are in their walks or what they are struggling with.
But anyway, back to the main point, how are we as Christian’s to overcome these things in our lives?
Now, I’m not saying I have a 5 step process to overcoming your giants, or some ‘surefire method’ to get the devil on the run or anything…
All I have is some advise on what has helped and is continuing to help me overcome these things and I am sharing it in hopes that perhaps it will help others.
I’ll use a personal example, I used to be addicted to video games. While this might sound relatively harmless, when you are addicted to something (as any addict can attest), it takes over your whole thought process and life. If the focus of my life is on video games and not on Christ, then that’s a big problem! I was living to play games, not living for Christ…
I recognized it was a problem and WANTED to change, but was absolutely incapable of doing so. This state seems to be pretty common in people from what I have observed.
I asked God time and time again for the strength and will to ‘resist’ the urges to play games and think about games and dream about games, etc. But it seemed no matter what I did it would still be the focus of my life, even if I wasn’t actually playing them.
What seems to have helped me and I hope might be useful to someone else as well, is I changed the way I prayed about this issue and how I approached the ‘war’ against this giant in my life.
Rather than asking God to give ME the strength to change, I starting asking God to simply take away my desire for video games, to give me a desire to do His will instead, and walk in His ways.
This may seem arbitrary but I think it changed the way I viewed my relationship with God and how I engaged in warfare against this Goliath in my life that I couldn’t overcome which is I think the real message here I’m trying to convey.
If we approach our giants in our own strength and pride (even if we are asking for God’s ‘help’) and attempt to overcome them the way the world and our culture claims we should be able to (just by ‘trying’ really hard), we are going to fail every time (at least from the experiences that I’ve had and the examples I see Biblically).
If we come to God in genuine humility, with an understanding that it’s only Him that can change us and remove our desire for those things rather than just asking for the ‘power’ to overcome them or ‘resist’ them ourselves as it were, it really changes the dynamic of the warfare.
Now one other thing I recognized is the pride in my life, and I felt disingenuous toward God as a result, which I think we can all relate too (again if we are being honest), and that spurred on prayer asking God to create a genuine and humble heart in me (still praying for this continually and I encourage you to do the same), which I believe is essential to see any victories in our lives.
2 Chronicles 26:5 “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” The dilemma (at least for me) was I also seemed incapable of genuine humility before God… Again as with the gaming addiction, there really wasn’t anything I could do to ‘get’ humility no matter how hard I tried… Which brings us back to that place of vulnerability and powerlessness before God, asking that in His grace he would change us to be like Christ despite our inability to change ourselves.
The interesting thing that resulted is I didn’t even really ‘fight’ against that addiction any longer in the sense that it didn’t feel like a struggle anymore. It wasn’t a immediate ‘boom’ I no longer had a desire to play video games thing, I still played them, but gradually I found they no longer controlled my life or my thought process, and I didn’t really care whether or not I got to play. They no longer held any power over me.
Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not saying I still didn’t recognize it was a problem or that I just said to myself: “I’m just gonna play games as much as I want now and not worry about it.” type thing, but the battle was no longer ‘mine’ if that makes sense, it became God’s.
I think the common thing that happens is after we’ve struggled against one of these giants for a while, we just start to concede or accept them and say to ourselves “I’m only human, if God wants to fix this in my life He can fix it but if He doesn’t I’ll just continue doing it, after all God can’t really fault me for doing something I don’t have the capability to overcome!”
The reality is I think though that its more often than not our own arrogance and unwillingness to submit to God that is the problem, not the Giant itself whatever it may be. There is no Goliath that God cannot overcome I am convinced of that!
If we surrender these struggles to God and ask Him to transform our hearts and minds instead of conceding to the giants that we don’t possess the capability to overcome, I think we will see a lot more battles won… At least I have in my own life.