‘You can do anything, if you work hard.’
I wonder how many times we’ve heard a version of this statement. Probably the person who said it wanted to be encouraging – to excite us with the idea of endless opportunities, countless doors which will open if we only knock loud enough.
Yes, ‘You can do anything’ is an exciting thought, but, growing up, the message that was really emphasised to me was ‘if you work hard’. If you work hard at school, you can get good marks, if you work hard to practice at football (or playing the piano, or speaking Spanish) you’ll improve. This seems logical, right? It’s easy to believe that the more effort you put in, the better the end result.
I know that for me, this mindset filters through into my spiritual life. It means that whenever I hear someone talking about a way to become more like Jesus – for example, being more patient with my family, or more regular in spending time with God – my immediate response can be ‘I’ll work on that’. It can even mean that in hard situations like illness, addiction, or hurt relationships, somewhere in the back of mind is the assumption that if I only prayed hard enough, was good enough, maybe that would pay off and fix the problem.
But the Kingdom of God doesn’t work like the world works.
In the Kingdom of God, we don’t achieve success through our own efforts, we partake in victory through Jesus’ accomplishments. This is such good news! Romans 8:35-36 declares:
‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.’
Paul, writing this passage, emphasises here that in every situation we are united to Jesus’s love for us, and it’s only through him that we are victorious. Notice here that it’s not simply Jesus swooping in and ‘fixing’ each of these problems. Paul doesn’t focus on Jesus’s effect on the situations we face (although Jesus can and does intervene!) but rather on how Jesus affects us.
Christ’s love turns us from victims to victors, more than conquerors!
This means that the pressure isn’t on our performance anymore, because we don’t rely on our own work, but rather Jesus’ work in us.
So my challenge to you is this: Ask the Holy Spirit to release your identity as a victor into your life, to help you live as a victor through him! When we rely on God’s victory rather than our own strength, not only do we free ourselves from burdens we can never carry, but we allow Jesus to give us victories we could never win for ourselves.
Tell God that you choose to live as a conqueror through Christ, not through your own strength. Thank Jesus for his victory and ask him to release it in your own life.
Then get specific! Ask Jesus if there are any particular places in your life where he wants to give you victory. This could be a sin, or an attitude, or a relationship, or a worry – whatever it is, spend some time declaring that Jesus has won the victory now and forever and invite him to bring his victory to this situation!
Isabel was raised in California and moved to London several years ago. She now studies English Literature as an undergraduate at Durham University, where she loves to play rugby, write creatively, and enjoy a variety of cheese and/or chocolate related activities.