The kingdom of God offers a great refund and exchange policy.
- We can always exchange bad fruit for good.
- There’s no limit on the number of days we’ve held onto a lie; we can exchange lies for truths with or without a receipt – 365 days a year.
As I celebrate my 55th birthday, I’m celebrating three significant returns – and great exchanges.
I’m exchanging “be good” for “own my influence and impact.”
Playing church for 40+ years, my motivation was “be good.” I was “good” in school – in most subjects and on the conduct side of the report card. In the areas of life where I wasn’t “good,” I pretended. Or I just didn’t try.
There was a freeing – and humbling – wake up call the day Bruce McNicol (trueface.org) encouraged me to navigate each day, not with a “be good” compass” – but rather with an “own my influence and impact” compass.
The humbling part of this compass exchange was realizing that my “good enough” – most of the time – was “self focused.” By definition “self focused” doesn’t allow for “you focused.” Practically speaking, I can complete my agenda with style points every day – and never have any time or energy left to really know you – to know your real needs – or to demonstrate any personal love and care for you.
The freeing part of this compass exchange was I could throw away the “be good” compass. I can now live in a big world – free to explore and enjoy and fall in love with horizons much grander than I can encounter with perfection.
And I don’t have to pretend in areas of life where it’s really much more fruitful to ask for help.
I’m exchanging fixing my old nature for trusting in my new nature.
I remember very well the day my Southern Baptist preacher dad drew the picture of a heart – with Xs on it to represent my sin. He then explained to me this truth: only the blood of Jesus could erase my sins.
I was so excited to get baptized; I still trust the new life that began because I trusted God.
But I didn’t know I had a new life. I just thought Jesus’ blood had cleaned the muddy floor of my heart. And every day after that, I imagined me – running home with muddy boots on – and Jesus standing there leaning on a mop with a look on His face that said, “Really? Again? Haven’t I told you…? Will you ever…?”
So I tried harder.
I didn’t stop to consider that if behavior management worked, the cross and resurrection of Jesus was a waste. Sin management was my goal; my continual new day resolution.
Oh my delight in trusting I have a new nature! I can’t fix the old one; neither can you. The same trust that gave breath to this new nature in me is what matures this new nature in me. Every day I’m maturing into all that God says is already true about me.
I’m not a sinner striving to be a saint; I’m a saint who sometimes sins.
Now I picture Jesus smiling at me – muddy boots and all. He’s not condemning me – He’s asking me to dance!
I’m exchanging pleasing God for trusting God.
As I begin to experience life trusting God with who He says I am – I also enjoy the freedom of trusting God with who He says He is.
God is love. He finds great pleasure in loving me – because of who He is. God can’t stop loving me anymore than He can stop being God.
When my primary motivation is pleasing God, I imagine my relationship with Him is about earning and deserving – and I find myself in a cycle of striving and hiding. When my motivation is trusting God, I rest in a relationship of receiving and maturing – growing into all He says is true about me.
My trusting God is what pleases Him; without trust, it’s impossible to please Him.
I don’t know when your birthday is – but can I suggest a gift idea? Search your motivations and relational considerations; if you find any lies – ask God for an exchange.
And say “yes!” when He asks you to dance.