From my wonderful friend and sister in Christ, Kayla:
I’ve heard it said before that even good things can become bad things. For example – saying yes to too many fund-raising committees can spread you too thin to care for your own family. And – surprising your spouse with a really incredible present when there isn’t money to be spent on it that month can cause the family financial stress, even though it was a selfless act.
Today though, I’m going even a little deeper than that. I’m talking about allowing the fulfillment of our convictions to become idols and even allow some pride, judgment and condemnation to sneak its way into our hearts.
As we grow in our faith, God will reveal Himself to us more and more – and through this revealing, we gain wisdom and insights from scripture.
None of us accepts Christ, and then immediately understands everything, has all new convictions, breaks all old habits, and understands everything we read in scripture with flawless precision. That just isn’t how it happens. Each of us starts out as an infant and hopefully spends the rest our lives growing and maturing to example Christ.
In this process, I’ve discovered that we can be moving very much in the right direction, and slowly, without intention of any kind, get off course – or continue on course but only while picking up heavy boulders to carry as we walk.
I’ve discovered this in my own life with Christian School.
My husband and I felt extremely convicted to send our kids to the private Christian school in the county in which we live four years ago when our oldest son started kindergarten. I did not start out making this decision with any judgment or ridicule of anyone else or their decisions for education.
Throughout the last three years, as I watched my children growing in the Lord, memorizing scripture, bring protected and nurtured in a Christian environment without the inclusion of myths and theories the world has adopted – I began to feel more and more like we were making a better choice for our kids than others were making.
I certainly didn’t condemn anyone or degrade them for using the public school system, but in my heart – I grew proud that we were mature in the Lord, following our convictions, taking HUGE leaps of faith financially, and giving our kids the best option available.
This year however, our circumstances have changed, the environment has changed, the options have changed, the finances have changed and we’ve had to cry before the Lord for guidance.
Well, after weeks of talking, praying, fasting, seeking TONS & TONS of counsel, my husband has decided that our children will actually be attending public school this coming school year.
And I’ve run smack dab into this faulty idol that had so subtly rooted in my life. I realized that my fears have caused me to put a lot of trust in myself and not enough in God. And my anxiety over not doing “the best” thing for our kids makes me feel like we’re not as good of Christians or that we’re slipping in our faith.
To my surprise, I’m not the only one who this has happened to.
I’ve recently heard some similar stories from other friends sharing these same realities.
- One mom was homeschooling originally with the heart to impress on her children education, but with Christian roots. Eventually she found she was taking pride in it and controlling her fears with her own strength. She lost her voice and needed surgery on her throat which put the kids in public school for a year. She grew immensely and God worked on some amazing life lessons for her – but also for her kids that year. She is now homeschooling once again, but with a totally different heart attitude.
- One woman told me that this happened with wearing skirts. She said she didn’t feel like she judged others for not wearing them – but that she found herself believing she was a better Christian for wearing them. And she started to like the attention of others thinking she was a radical Christian for this decision. Her original heart motive was to please the Lord with modesty, but some other stuff snuck in there too.
- Another wife told me this has happened with respecting her husband. The image it portrayed started to become equally as important as respecting her husband because it’s a command of God in marriage.
Sometimes making decisions, ESPECIALLY IF WE FEEL WE ARE FOLLOWING A CONVICTION, can allow us to be VERY opinionated.
We can become arrogant that the way we would do it is the ONLY RIGHT way to do it, and if it’s not done that way we get judgmental or angry.
We can press our convictions, reasons, and opinions on other people as facts and expect them to be in total agreement with us. (Let me give an example of why that is a little silly. Samson wasn’t suppose to cut his hair. Does that mean his example should have been imposed upon all men with the intent that they all take the Nazarene vow and no God-fearing man who walks this Earth should ever get a hair-cut? No?)
When we start to examine what others should be doing, how we’re doing it better than them, or any other form of us/them – we’re not right with the Lord. Our decisions shouldn’t be based on looking around in any direction except directly up for what the Father wants us to do.
God leads the hearts of His people. And He alone is responsible for convicting and judging motives. And if blinders are on or need removed – they are under His authority and will stay or fall on His command.
I never thought we’d send our kids to public school. Any time before June of 2013, I would have in fact told you there was NO WAY it would ever happen. And yet here I am, looking over the public school supply list and organizing “Street Clothes” instead of uniform clothes to be used this year.
Make a list of my convictions. Spend some time going over them and admitting or confessing any hidden or secret judgments, opinions, pride, idols that have crept their way in EVEN though my heart was first set on doing right and following God. Confess, repent and go forward with a new, clean heart!
If the thought of not having something brings us to utter fear and total panic – it is definitely time to ask God to help us check our motives to see if we are putting that thing above our pursuit of Christ and our intimacy with Him.
“The human heart is an idol factory” We can and do make idols of almost anything! Even good things.
- It is not the particular issue that is often the problem. It’s not a matter of Christian school is ALWAYS what believers should do for their children. Or homeschooling or public school is ALWAYS what disciples of Christ should do. The issue is our obedience to God’s voice, our willingness to cooperate with our husbands’ God-given leadership and our motives.
For me, when I find myself very disappointed about something, or full of negative emotions – that is a flag to check my motives and allow God to convict me of self-righteousness, idolatry, pride, selfishness or a critical spirit and it is a reminder to set my gaze squarely on Christ and yield everything fully to Him, dying to self, giving myself as a living sacrifice to Him. It is time to say again with renewed devotion, “Not my will, but Yours be done!” That may include doing something that I really do NOT want to do! I have GOT to be totally submitted to Christ and placing all of my trust in Him alone. He is the only solid rock there is to stand on in this world! I want to desire Him and obey Him and please Him more than anything!
This situation Kayla has faced this summer was an incredible opportunity for her to learn to trust the sovereignty of God. She and her husband would like to send their children to Christian school again. The finances aren’t there right now. Her husband decided this year they will need to go to public school. So this is a test for Kayla’s faith. Is God sovereign even when she doesn’t agree with a decision or doesn’t like it? Is God able to lead her through her husband in this issue that is so important to her? Is God sovereign even in public school? Is God big enough to be able to use this year in this particular public school for His glory and for her ultimate good and for her children’s ultimate good?
Thankfully – OUR GOD IS INDEED THAT BIG!
This is something that every disciple of Christ must go through in real life and hash through and work through their fears and feelings and determine to trust God and His Word about each issue. The decisions will be different for different people and at different times in their lives. The key is not the particular decision – the key is our complete and total yielding of all control, trust and faith to God.
Our God is so very good.
I’m extremely thankful and excited about what He is doing in YOUR life! I love hearing from each of you. You are precious to me!