Good Self Vs. God Self
Most people see life in terms of good vs. evil. The deeper battle is actually good self vs. God self. When God is not given preeminence, the battle degenerates into good vs. evil, but that is actually several steps later in the process.
Working with addicts, it would be easy to focus on the kinds of things that trigger drug use. I find that when I focus on that level of “overcoming evil,” I seldom am able to help them get to a place of victory. When I look to a deeper heart level, victory is much more consistent.
One man I have helped through the transformation process is a born leader. If you have read previous blogs, leadership is his glory. It is his name. Whenever his wife or his child do not respond to his leadership, it is painful for him and it shouts to him that he is falling short of his purpose in life.
So what is the natural human response when others don't respond to his leadership gift? Turn up the heat. Use control or manipulation tactics. Get angry or use threats. The natural human response is “if I can somehow get this person to respond to me, then I will feel better about me.” Of course, the harder he pushes, the worse the outcomes with his family and the worse he feels until he bottoms out in a way that he is vulnerable to use.
If you get the picture, the harder this man works at being his good self, the worse the situation gets. The biblical solution is simple. Recognize that you have no authority over another individual unless that person chooses to give you that authority. Choose to behave in ways that make it more likely that the other person will trust you. Don’t take it personally when the other person rejects the influence you are bringing. Forgive the person and be ready to take the next opportunity for influence without having a chip on your shoulder from the last encounter. This is a simple description of a trust building lifestyle.
However, I challenge any of you to try to do what is described in the last paragraph and to do it well over a period of time. Apart from God, it is not possible. In our human strength, we can do it for a while. We can do it to a lesser level. Some accept a mediocre level as being “Christian.” God says be “perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).
As I challenged this man to humble himself and to bring the life of God to his family, he failed over and over again. But step by step, his failures became a little less grotesque. He learned to connect with God more and to carry more peace. He learned to forgive more quickly. The more he learned that he absolutely could not lead his family without connecting with God, the more likely he was to connect with God. The more he connected with God, the more likely he was to be patient which brought better outcomes which meant that he could finally feel better about himself.
His major battle was not with his perverted self. That man only showed up after he had lost all hope of being his good self. He would try to be that good leader as long as he could. When failure became too painful, then and only then did the evil self become the place of battle.
If and when we learn to fight the fight of getting our good self surrendered to God, the fight with the evil self largely goes away. It never gets the chance to get the foothold it needs to take over.
Where are the battles in your life? Are you recognizing those places where you are believing and depending on your giftedness to get you through? Do you see your need to stay constantly connected to God and surrendered to Him? Are you attentive to the fact that most pain from others and impatience with others is an indicator that you are living in the good self?
Fight the fight of surrendering your good self to God and live in His victory!