We are imperfect people being sanctified and saved by a perfect God. This is the gospel in a nutshell.
I’m reminded of a clip I watched of Chris Pratt accepting an MTV movie award in 2018. In his acceptance speech he says that people are going to tell you that you’re perfect – but you’re not! There is a powerful force [God] who designed you that way, if you’re willing to accept that, you will experience the gift of grace. A gift that was paid for by the blood of Jesus.
Our culture has told us that we’re perfect just the way we are, that we don’t need to change. The truth is, we’re not perfect and while that sounds harsh it’s actually a good thing! We are sinful people living less than perfect lives. But God graciously sent his Son who lived a perfect life, died a criminal’s death and was raised to life again so that we can also be raised to eternal life with Him!
“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:21
2. Embrace vulnerability
As Christians, we are called to boast in our weakness. This is a way to humble ourselves and give God the glory.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9
3. Relinquish control and cast your anxiety on Jesus
One of my former Pastor’s would often say, “Over and over, give it over until it’s over.” When we recognize that we are not in control but God is, it allows us to put our problems in perspective and teaches us to trust in God’s authority.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” – Philippians 4:6-8
4. Keep your focus on God, not the things of this world
When you’re learning to ride a bicycle, they say to keep your gaze on where you want to go. That’s because where you’re looking is often where your body will follow. When you’re overly concerned on earthly things it’s easy to lose focus on the things of God.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” – Romans 12:2
5. Control your thoughts
We have the power to control our thought life, our thoughts don’t have power over us. While this sometimes seems like an up hill battle it’s worth the effort.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” – 2 Corinthians 10:5
6. Be content with what you have
Just like Paul says in Philippians, we can learn to be content in all circumstances, as we lean on Jesus. Every season is purposeful.
“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:11-13
7. Be grateful
Write out what you’re grateful for or make a list in your head. Even if you only start with one, shifting your perspective can be a powerful tool in changing your attitude.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
8. Practice generosity
Studies have shown that being generous actually makes you feel happier than when you receive a gift.
“Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” – 2 Corinthians 9:7
9. Recognize that joy is different than happiness
Joy is linked to our eternal reward, the big picture of faith. Happiness is based on earthly satisfaction. Can you be happy AND joyous? Of course! But happiness alone is not what we should strive for. Remind yourself that happiness is fleeting, just like the world and the things in it, but joy is eternal and permeates through even the most difficult situations.
“I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.” – Isaiah 61:10
10. Live below your means
More stuff rarely leads to fulfillment. You don’t need to “keep up with the Jones’” to enjoy life.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19-21