We've begun a new series of study on the Radical Grace of Almighty God. We're centering on the restorative, renewing, and healing power of His Grace in our lives. Once Grace is freely received in our hearts, we will experience wholeness.
Today, I want to focus on an issue many believers have struggled with. That is this area of spiritual burnout. More clearly stated, this area of strivings, abiding in a performance-based faith, operating in achievement syndromes. This accomplishment rooted approach to God only produces more struggle and eventual burnout.
Many Christian sincerely desire to be committed, dedicated, devoted followers of Christ Jesus. This is commendable. However, what God wants is not a dutiful servant. He is not seeking interaction with people who relate or interact with Him out of a sense of obligation or moral responsibility.
What our Father seeks is a relationship. He is not our supervisor or manager or executive in the Heavens, He is our Father in Heaven. He is longing for a relationship, not a duty-minded servant. He is the good Father, who gave us His only Son as the payment for all our sins, redeeming us from the hand of the enemy, exchanging our old nature with a new nature, making us the very righteousness of God in Christ.
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
God desires us to come to Him as His children, not His workers. He longs to interact with us as the loving Father who rejoices over us with joy. He strongly desires to fellowship with us like family, not as employees. He sees us as His sons and daughters, not subjects or dutiful servants. God longs to eradicate the image of God as the harsh taskmaster, who is never pleased, out of our thinking and to embrace the true image of God. That He is our good and loving Father who is always for us and never against us.
Spiritual activity such as prayer, devotion, church attendance, and even our giving are good things. We can experience growth and maturity as a result. However, prayer or Bible study was never designed as a task to complete or duty to fulfill. Going to church has always been about fellowshipping with fellow believers and bringing our supply to bless the Body of Christ. It was never about an obligatory, weekly chore that must not be missed.
The cure for this burnout is found in Grace. Paul masterfully expresses a truth we must never forget.
5 Don’t be mistaken; in and of ourselves we know we have little to offer, but any competence or value we have comes from God. 2 Corinthians 3:5 Voice
Our sufficiency or Christ's?
The key to overcoming burnout is realizing it's Christ sufficiency and not our own. That's Grace. When we focus on doing the good things and turn them into some type of chore or task to be completed we are operating out of our own sufficiency.
Sometimes people mistakenly think they are operating out of Christ's strength when in fact they are in their own strength. You see reading God's Word offers comfort and strength. Hearing the Word preached also brings faith and encourages us. However, how we are to live and operate is out of His sufficiency not our own, as Paul said.
People take the encouragement from the Word and assume this is living and moving in Him. They then proceed to carry out the Christian "tasks" expected such as witnessing to the lost. Eventually, this work, work, and more work begins to grow tiresome and produces weariness.
In response, they increase their study time. They fast. They attend more church services. Still, the work makes them weary and has the potential to turn them bitter and cold. The solution? The answer? Knowing and understanding the truth that operating in Him is letting Christ work through us and not us working for Him.
We must know and understand where our sufficiency is. No matter how much Bible we read, no matter how long we pray, no matter how many sermons we hear, we must never forget where our sufficiency is. We are insufficient apart from Him. Our trust should always be in Him and not in anything we have done or are doing.
What we must understand is that our efforts, our works, are never sufficient in and of themselves. What Grace does is bring us to a point to realize no matter what we will always need God to work through us and in us. When we lose sight of this, we will burn out.
In summation, how can we tell if we are on the path to burning out? How can we tell if we are on that road headed to weariness? When we begin trusting in our actions and disciplines when we see spiritual activities as duties or obligations to meet know we are on the wrong path. Thank God for Grace that directs our steps to a better way, the way of rest and refreshing.
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