Stop Trying So Hard to Be Good

Maybe my new year’s resolution should be this: stop trying to so hard.

I’ve always leaned towards over-achievement.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me.  I really like doing things well.  I used to be fairly good at it until I had kids! LOL! But I still like it.

I was always very intrinsically motivated as a child to do well in school, get good grades.  I didn’t do it for a reward or to be better than others; I just really enjoyed accomplishing a task.

My number one strength on the Strength Finders is “Responsibility”.  That about sums it up.  Whatever I take on (and even some tasks that I don’t), I feel very motivated to see to completion.  This is not a strength that I would wish upon others, though it does get stuff done.

The problem is that this type of internal wiring can transfer over to my relationship with Jesus.  I can be lured into thinking that if I just try hard enough, I can be more loving and more patient and less afraid.  It’s taken me about 1/3 of a century to realize that, in fact, I cannot.  

I can fake it for awhile, but I can not produce these character traits on my own.  At least, not really.  I can adjust some habits.  Humanistic training has told me that I can better myself to a degree, but it’s not real.  It’s not the kind of Velveteen Rabbit change.  The kind of transformation that takes what is not and turns into something real.

I need to stop trying so hard to be like Jesus. #wwjd Click To Tweet

I need to stop trying so hard to be good.

On my own, I am not.  I cannot dress up my flesh.  I cannot make my old self look better.  It’s like putting make-up on a corpse.

Jesus came to give me NEW life.  A NEW heart.  A NEW person.  A NEW creation.

I don't have to try to be like Jesus because Jesus lives inside of me. #wwjd Click To Tweet

His Spirit put on my body and wants to walk around in it and talk through it.

I don’t have to try to be good because I am good now.  He is good, and now I’m one with Him.  Sound mysterious?  It is.  Even more mysterious than a man and woman coming together and making a human. (Have you ever thought about how incredible and bizarre that is?!)

And the New Testament totally backs me up on this.

When I’m instructed to strive in the Bible, the striving is to stay in a place of rest (Hebrews), of dependency upon the Spirit.  To walk in step with Him.  To allow Him to move and motivate and give utterance.

What was the difference between the cowardly disciples who deserted Jesus at His time of greatest need and the terrifyingly bold disciples who withstood beatings and martyrdom?  The HOLY SPIRIT.  He was THE. ONLY. DIFFERENCE.

Walking with God in flesh, seeing him crucified and come back to life wasn’t enough.  Even as Jesus was giving them the Great Commission, some were still doubting (Matthew 28:17).  What changed?

The Holy Spirit.

When He came on them in the upper room, He gave them a boldness that they had not previously possessed.  In fact, they could not have previously been that bold because they did not have the Spirit of God.  That’s why Jesus said that it was better that he went away so that they could receive the Holy Spirit.

No longer is Jesus limited to just one body.  Now He can be with all of us at all times, within us.  We never have to worry that the storm will drown out His voice, because His voice is coming from within!!  Closer than any other person could ever be.  The Holy Spirit is to be our best friend.

I love Him.  I can’t imagine my life without Him.  He gives me wisdom, perspective, help, deep comfort, understanding, kind words.  He reveals to me who Jesus is.  He opens my eyes to see more of God so that I can worship Him as I should.  He teaches me what to avoid and what to give myself to.  He explains His book to me (you know, the Bible- He wrote it.)

Joyful, uninhibited, carefree, a little crazy.  Sound like a drunk person? Actually, that’s what walking with the Spirit is supposed to look like.  That’s what the Bible compares it to (Ephesians 5).

Real joy.  Real affection for others.  Real boldness.  Real love.  Real freedom from “doing the right thing.”  The rules are out.  Being led by the Spirit is in.  That’s why two people being led by the Spirit can do the exact same thing with only one of the sinning while the other is not.  Sound radical?  It is. That’s the point.

There’s so much more I could say, but I will stop here.  If you know Him, you love Him.  If you don’t know Him, I would encourage you to seek Him out. He’s promised to anyone who wants Him (Luke 11).

You can also get my free e-book, 7 Biblical Ways to Hear God’s Voice.  Learning how to hear and identify God’s voice in my life revolutionized my walk with Him.  I sincerely hope it does the same for you!

12 Comments

  • Erik January 3, 2017 at 1:01 am

    Well spoken again Brooke!

    Reply
  • Michele Morin January 4, 2017 at 9:01 am

    I think I’m like you — always trying for the “A” and forgetting that we’re not being graded in life. Thanks for this exhortation to lean into the grace of God and to hear the words of joy that He sings over me each day.

    Reply
    • Brooke Grangard January 4, 2017 at 9:08 am

      Thanks, Michele! And it is hard to get out of the thinking that governs most other areas of our lives!

      Reply
  • Ifeoma Samuel January 4, 2017 at 10:10 am

    Hi Brooke, thanks for the encouragement today. Jesus lives in me and through the Holy Spirit we can do all things.
    God bless you and Happy New Year

    Reply
    • Brooke Grangard January 4, 2017 at 10:26 am

      Yes! I’m still amazed that the living God is in me! I hope I understand that more fully this year! Happy New Year to you too!

      Reply
  • Kristin Taylor January 6, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    Oh, yeah, I’ve been known to try too hard and lose focus of Who actually matters. Thanks for this fresh reminder. And thanks for linking up at #ThreeWordWednesday.

    Reply
  • Stacey Thureen January 6, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    Brooke, thank you for your transparency. This is so good. Many blessings to you!

    Reply
  • Dawn Boyer January 13, 2017 at 6:54 pm

    I love the idea of striving for rest. 🙂 And there is so much truth in making that a resolution to own… we can’t be good on our own. Only God is good and it is by and through continual connecting with Him that we can ever fully change. Great ideas here, Brooke!
    I had the privilege of being directed to your Attending Post today, so I wanted to read another offering of your heart.
    Blessings!
    Dawn

    Reply
    • Brooke Grangard January 14, 2017 at 9:25 pm

      Thanks, Dawn! So grateful for a God who makes us good. 🙂

      Reply

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