I somewhat recently went to the theater and enjoyed a new movie that didn’t include Jedi in the title (although that one was great too.) As I walked out of the movie theater two things happened. First, I picked a few rogue pieces of popcorn out of my jacket, and second, I began reflecting on what I had just watched. Perhaps my favorite part of the movie was how conflict developed in the story. I walked out of the theater realizing that the story’s biggest antagonist was also the biggest protagonist. For those of us who have forgotten our 6th-grade literature class, this basically means that our hero’s biggest enemy was himself.
The concept of a man vs. self conflict is certainly not a new one, but it did get me thinking about my own Josh vs. Self-narrative. Here we are on the second day of a brand new year. Many of us have set goals for ourselves in the new year. A few years back my new year’s goal was to get six pack abs, I would have accomplished that goal easily if it weren’t for my love of donuts, but I digress.
Many of us have either resolved ourselves to do something more or resolved to do something less. These goals, or resolutions, are often good and very well-meaning, unfortunately, many people find themselves at the beginning of February frustrated and ready to give up. So how do we make sure that our goals for the new year don’t go unrealized? Well, I think we need to first understand that often times our own worst enemy is ourselves.
Now, please don’t misunderstand me. I know that the Bible depicts the Devil is the enemy of our souls. He is a liar who seeks to discourage, kill, accuse, and make us as ineffective in this life as possible. However, I do think that sometimes we give him a bit too much credit. Saying, “I didn’t read my Bible today because the Devil stopped me,” is as silly of a statement as, “I didn’t go to the gym today because it was cold outside.” No, we choose not to go to the gym for the same reason we choose not to read our bibles, we are lazy and don’t feel like it.
Is the Devil happy that you didn’t read your bible? Sure, of course. But he cannot make you do anything that didn’t already chose to do.
We are our own worst enemy. But God is our biggest ally…and all He does is win.
Where does this come from? Why are we this way? And what can we do about it? Thankfully the Bible answers these questions.
Romans 5:12 says, “sin came into the world through one man, [Adam] and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned.” We are sinners by nature and by choice and so, therefore, our default setting is to love the things that hurt us the most.
The letter of James tells us in chapter 1, “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” Did you catch that? The temptations we face are our own sinful desires luring and enticing us. Even Paul struggled with this in Romans 7 and we are just like him, we do what we should despise. We love what we ought to hate.
Thankfully, as always, there is hope. Psalm 73:26, “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is my strength.” You may be your own worst enemy, but your biggest ally is far greater and far stronger.
And 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come.” If you are in Christ Jesus the old is gone and the new has come. Don’t listen to your own lies, God has made you new.
The start of a new year is a wonderful time to start fresh, be disciplined, and set a precedent for how we will live for the next 12 months. In order to do these things, we need to get out of our own way and allow God to transform us by His Holy Spirit.
Let’s allow God to work in us so that when we look in the mirror we don’t see our own worst enemy, but instead we see a person who is continually being transformed into the image of the Son. When people look at us, they should see a reflection of Jesus.
The goals that we set for the year will only be accomplished if we choose to rely on God rather than ourselves. A great place to start learning how to rely on God is by digging into the Bible. I would highly recommend finding a Bible reading plan for 2018! If you need help finding one or even just need a friendly reminder to stay on track I would love to help, just shoot me a message.
Happy New Year.