I often grow tired of following Jesus. Why? Because I focus more on my efforts than God’s grace. Every night, nothing stands out more in my mind than how well I performed that particular day. This lifestyle wears me down. It makes me depressed. And it removes the joy of Christ from my life.
You see, I’m like a tired Christian. I grudgingly open my Bible. I hesitantly pray. I serve out of obligation more so than love.
I believe there are many tired Christians. People who sit in pews and miss the point. People who live contrary to God’s Word throughout the week because following Jesus appears to be more of a burden than a joy.
I’ve been reading the book of Isaiah, and I’m drawn to a statement God makes to Israel.
“‘But, dear family of Jacob, you refuse to ask for my help. You have grown tired of me, O Israel! You have not brought me sheep or goats for burnt offerings. You have not honored me with sacrifices, though I have not burdened and wearied you with requests for grain offerings and frankincense. You have not brought me fragrant calamus or pleased me with the fat from sacrifices. Instead, you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with you faults’” (Isa. 43:22-24 NLT).
As I read this, I begin to wonder if the Israelites’ religious duties overshadowed their genuine access to God. In other words, did their religion for God create a barrier to their relationship with God?
I believe some people are more focused on their responsibilities for God than their relationship with Him. It’s a mindset that asks, “What can I do for God?” instead of “What has God done for me?”
Now, make no mistake about it, we’re called to work for God. But our efforts should never be the source of our joy. Our work should never overshadow the work of God’s grace through Jesus Christ.
This morning, God spoke a verse to my heart.
“You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NASB).
Now, let me place this verse in context.
John is warning his readers of false spirits—false teachers—who are spreading lies about God. And I can’t help but think about the false spirits in our lives that cause us to believe God is more concerned with our efforts than His grace.
“For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace” (Gal. 5:4 NLT).
“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many” (Heb. 12:15 NLT).
As followers of Jesus, we must never allow God’s inward work of grace to be overshadowed by our outward work for Him.
Remember, “… greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4 NASB).
The Apostle Paul writes, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us …” (Eph. 3:14-20 NKJV).
As the prophet Isaiah wrote, the Israelites had grown tired of God. Could it have been because the people approached God with more religion than relationship?
When you find yourself tired of God, remember that He is in you. It’s His power at work within you that’s capable of carrying you through life. Quit relying on your own strength.
Isaiah Pauley is a senior at Wahama High School. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.