I was struggling this morning feeling like I have to justify myself all the time. If I really think about it I can see how I do it with my husband around my work, my finances, or my time. It's not like he asks for it. He doesn't. In fact, he wonders why I do it and challenges me to look at it.
This morning my husband didn't have to challenge me though. I challenged my own thoughts and feelings around it. If something is bothering me, I've got to go within, look at my behavior, what might be causing it and what I can do to change it with God's help.
One thing I know I'll be doing is adding this to my prayer list,
"God help me to let go of my need to justify for it is through faith in you that I am justified. That's it and more than enough."
The next thing is as I was writing this, I thought about the three actions that I get wrapped up in doing when I tend to justify and let me tell you - a waste of time.
3. Explain (sometimes overly)
Then I repeat the cycle. I'm learning from experience and age that it's a process of going around in circles with no end and I'm ready to get aware, and get out of it.
So, here's what I did this morning. I got on the elliptical and I looked up struggling with justification knowing I'd find some blog and at some point I'd get led to scripture which was ultimately where I wanted to go.
The first article was this one: "16 Things You Shouldn't Have to Justify to Anyone Else," by Marc Chernoff. I don't know why we feel the need to justify ourselves but I believe it gets harder the more we give of ourselves and share the road with people we love. We give so much that we forget ourselves and feel guilty - so we justify.
We just need to BE us! #5, 8, 13 and 16 speak to me right now. How about you?
The other thing I found was this article from the American Express website, "The 6 Excuses Entrepreneurs Use to Justify their Struggling Business." Okay, I'm an entrepreneur. Although it seems glamorous and in many ways it's nice to make your own hours, be your own boss and work from home, it's also tough. I'm just getting back into my business after two years of a pretty crazy personal life. I'm picking up coaching clients again, getting speaking engagements and writing more. You've got to show up intentionally with focus to make a living from something you really believe in, and it takes a lot of faith in God. I've got to not just believe in Him, I've got to believe that He's got the ultimate plan and he's working it all out for His good. Period. He IS my boss ultimately. He wants me to show up for life and glorify Him.
As my mother-in-law said to me when she was leaving for Iowa this morning, "Well, we say in our family - good things take time," and I agree. Yup, that and commitment and a lot of letting go of making excuses. I know that my shoulder surgery and following weight gain has made me want to play the victim role. I also know that with such a full plate at home as a wife and stepmom, I can easily get distracted by being present. But I can take being present to the extreme of not doing anything when I need to keep a balance of letting God show up to keep me present and keeping some structure.
So, all that being said, I got to the end of my google search and finally found a Lesson on Bible.org titled, "Justification by Faith Alone" by Steven Cole. I recommend you check it out, especially if you are coming to know Christ through faith, not faith AND works or religion itself.
I related to what this gentleman shared greatly. Growing up Catholic it was never justification through faith alone, but justification by faith and works.
I know for a fact in the depths of my soul and spirit that the minute I accepted Christ into my life, it wasn't about rules, regulations or works anymore. It was about Him. My little bit of faith at the time was the seed that allowed Him to come into my life and me to give Him all of me. I realized in that very moment there was nothing I could ever DO myself to change that. In the book I wrote, "Healthy Voice: Life Beyond the Weight," I speak of the moment I came to the Lord and the verse I share that speaks right to where I was at is Galatians 2:20, "My old self as been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me." This morning Utmost for His Highest referred to the scripture similar from Romans 7:9, "Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died."
The author of this Justification through Faith study, reminds me as a Christian that I am saved by grace through faith, not works. I can't earn it.
He makes four points. I pulled out a few quote concepts for you to catch what he's saying. I don't expect everyone to understand this, but those who have been saved by grace no matter how much they tried to do before - they know this...so it's more of a reminder and itself a justification or reminder that you ARE justified through faith alone...
1. Justification is God's declaring the guilty sinner to be righteous on the basis of Christ's death. To quote, "Justification does not mean to make righteous, as the Catholic Church teaches, but rather, to declare righteous."
2. The means of justification is faith in Christ's death. "Faith is not the basis of our justification; rather, it is the means. Faith is the hand which receives God’s provision in Christ. The basis for justification is that the just penalty for sin has been paid by an acceptable substitute. The justice of God must be met, and Jesus Christ paid that penalty." (Hello, that's why he died on the cross - for ALL of our sins!)
3. The only kind of people God justifies are the ungodly who do not work to be justified. "Hear me on this: You cannot and will not be justified in God’s sight as long as you think that you can earn it or deserve it."
4. The transaction of justification takes place the instant a sinner believes in Christ. He mentions, "Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, “If you cannot see that you can become a Christian immediately, at this moment, you have not grasped the doctrine. The moment one sees this doctrine one says, ‘Yes, I see that it is as possible for me to become a Christian now as it will be in a thousand years. If I withdrew from the world and became a monk or a hermit and spent my whole days in fasting and sweating and praying, I would be no nearer than I am now.’ God justifies the ungodly” (Romans: Atonement and Justification [Zondervan], p. 179) at the instant they believe in Christ. (That's exactly what I started with - just knowing the minute I began to really believe.)
A FINAL THOUGHT
My point is to show you where God took me in my devotion time this morning - from an inner struggle to His strength. I wanted to share the process - from my heart, to my head to HIS power, so that you could remember next time you feel like justifying something, you don't have to justify who you are. Remember WHOSE you are and how amazing it is that there is nothing you can DO yourself that would help you earn his love or make him love you any less. That was life changing for me and continues to be and I have to be reminded of it on a regular basis.
I hope you all have a great week and catch yourself the next time you feel like you have to justify. Realize where it takes you and if you believe, who you are justified in, because it's Christ.
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