Perhaps one of the greatest goals in my life is to hear the words “well done, good and faithful servant” as I meet God in eternity. This goal is my great motivation but also my great downfall. While I do not doubt that God has saved me from my sin, it is amazingly hard for me to ever feel confident that I am living a faithful life. Too often I feel like a second-rate Christian who is wasting my life and my talents.
As I talk with other believers I often find that I am not alone. I have friends who truly love God yet are often in tears because they feel that they are not the devoted follower of Jesus as they hope to be. So how do we know if we are being faithful? How can we have a greater assurance that our lives are not a waste? Here are some tips, although admittedly, I often struggle to follow my own advice.
1. Rest in the gospel–Any time we as Christians have serious struggles or doubts it is because we are not grabbing hold of the gospel as tightly as we should. Spend time mediating on the fact that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. What an amazing truth. This has to be our grounding for all that we do. In fact, all other points that follow this first point are an off shoot of not resting in or being grounded in the gospel.
2. Search our hearts for sin–At times we struggle or doubt because there is real sin present which is hindering us from being faithful. If you find sin in your life, repent and move forward. While sin is a serious offense not to be taken lightly, God’s forgiveness trumps our sin. When we do not allow ourselves to embrace God’s forgiveness we are stuck and can not be all that God has called us to be.
3. Have an open hand–There is some truth to the old cliche that we entered this life with nothing and we leave with nothing. Whatever God has blessed you with in this life, offer it back to him. Has he blessed you financially? Then be a generous giver. Has he blessed you with great people skills? Then use that to point people to the cross. Has he given you musical talent? Then use it to the glory of God. The tighter we hold on to gifts and possessions, the less faithful we will be. Rather than tightly hold on I urge you to radically use what God has given you.
4. Stop comparing yourself to others–If you are like me you have favorite Christian preachers or authors or leaders. It is so easy to try to measure yourself up to them. You see your friend who is gifted in evangelism and because evangelism comes harder for you, you begin to doubt. Or you see a friend who is gifted in hospitality and you are weak in that area, you get down in the dumps. Thankfully God created each of us with different gifts, different abilities, and different passions. Let people with different gifts be a blessing to you and not a discouragement (read Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12).
5. Find out what your gifts and passions are–I think the biggest reason Christians become discouraged is because they are uncertain of what their gifts are; or if they do know where they are gifted, they do not know how their gifting fits into their passions. I do tend to believe that many of the passions we have are God-given passions. Once we see how our gifts and our passions line up, we use them unto the Lord. The most joy-filled Christians I know are those who are serving God with their gifts in areas where they are passionate.
6. Be focused on love rather than duty–Make serving the Lord your greatest joy and not a means of acceptance by him. One of the most amazing truths for a Christian is that there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more or any less. God has a radical and passionate love for his children that never wavers. Let God’s love for you be the motivation for you to serve him. In other words serve God because you are accepted–not to be accepted. Do not have the mindset that you “have to” do this or that; rather, have it be “I get to” do whatever he has put before you to do.
I do hope and pray these tips help you be all that God has called you be. Ultimately let us glory in the truth that despite our lack of faithfulness, God continues remains faithful to us. Praise be to God for his faithfulness!