Over the years I’ve read dozens of self-help books- how to be visionary, how to be a good parent, how to lead a church, how to be a better spouse, etc. Many rehash the obvious. Others are one person’s experience re-packaged. A few are truly helpful. Covey’s book, 7 Habits of Highly Successful People, is one that comes to mind. His simple principles, things like “Think Win-Win,” or “Seek first to Understand, then to be Understood,” have stayed with me. What I’ve known for a long time is that being the best person I can be will never be the result of ‘self-help’ alone! In fact, the brokenness of my human nature goes so deep that despite my best and highest intentions, I fail to reach the lofty goals to which I aspire. I needed an intervention and God stepped in!
There is a passage that describes what happened to me (and to millions more!) by the grace of God. Here are excerpts. “You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. … By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that … he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) … So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. … For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:1-10, NLT)
We can be the best person possible only when we are loved by God and love Him in return. Do not confuse that with being religious or church-going. Plenty of miserable people, who are living far below their God-given potential, sit through church services week after week, year after year – untouched by the majesty of the message of Christ! Do not mistakenly think that loving God equates with becoming a religious fanatic who spouts Bible verses endlessly, either. We love God by surrendering ourselves to Him and accepting Christ’s love and mercy by faith, by pondering His mighty works worshipfully, and by allowing the Spirit to move deeply in us, transforming us – over time- from sinners to saints.
There is nothing in this world that brings out the best in us like the love of God. Being spiritual healthy as a result of receiving God’s grace work and practicing the disciplines of the Spirit as taught in the Scripture opens the door to maximum living, the best you can be! Because of Christ, you can be a forgiving, gentle, loving parent and spouse. In Christ, you will find hope to overcome the sense of futility that often turns others into cynics. In Christ, you are connected to the Creator of the Universe, inspired to come up with creative solutions to the challenges of life that abound on this broken planet. In Christ, you have the ability to say “no,” to a life of endless consumption to satisfy sensual appetites and “yes” to the Spirit’s way of giving more than you take.
In the Word, there is this prayer that Pastor Paul offered up for those he loved in the church in Ephesus. Receive this prayer for yourself today-
“I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength— that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.
And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19, The Message)
Begin to thank God for the potential He’s given you. Ask Him to inspire you to be the best you can be in His grace. Never just settle for what is easy, or natural! Let God create a masterpiece of humanity in you. Then others will say, “Thank God!” and the world will be improved by your existence. Is there anything truly better than that?