Inevitably‚ all of us end up in a situation where we feel like someone or something is putting pressure on us to produce what we cannot or should not be producing. Sometimes it just May be a matter season or timing. Either way‚ you end up feeling like you’re supposed to make the impossible happen. If you only succeeded‚ you feel like your faith and being “on the same page” with God will be validated and you’ll be vindicated.
Jesus faced this pressure from the beginning of his public ministry through the very end of his life.
Thankfully‚ he never gave in to the human weakness of proving himself and always moved out of obedience. I hate to break your idealistic religious idea of who Jesus was but the fact is there is no claim in the New Testament that he healed all the blind and all the deaf in Israel. He healed all those who came to him and who had faith he would. He didn’t raise all the dead. He didn’t feed all the hungry and he didn’t try to be friends with everyone.
Thus Jesus left a pattern for all his disciples of all ages – commit yourself to live a life of obedience to the Father and meet as many needs you can through His grace‚ not outside of it.
In addition‚ others in the Bible‚ as well as in history have proven the same. Greatness is the ability to stand on a principle and a value you know is fundamental to who you are.
So let me ask you – are you falling into the pitfall of trying to produce something that will meet your temporary need (or desire) or the need and desire of people you care about‚ outside of God’s grace (ability) in your life?
To complicate matters‚ not everyone is tempted to turn bread into stones for selfish reasons. Sometimes the reasons and the motives are good. And yet‚ in God’s timing‚ good might become bad.
Just what are the consequences of falling into such a pitfall? Why do we do it? Can we ever beat this syndrome?
There are three ways this works and by clearly defining them‚ I’m hoping we can all be encouraged to emerge as overcomers.
- Demonic interferences
- People’s expectations
- Our own expectations and ideas
Even though I listed them in this order‚ if we examine the life of Jesus‚ Paul and other heroes of the faith‚ the sequence is actually turned around.
- The pitfall of trying to produce something or be someone as a result of our own ideas and expectations.
As we look at the life of Jesus‚ it might appear that the demonic interferences (the temptation in the Judean wilderness) are first in line and importance. When it comes to the period of time after Jesus was released into his public ministry‚ that’s true. But the reality is that Jesus was always the Son of God and he probably knew it from early on. He had to humble himself for years‚ being just a carpenter’s son‚ while other‚ far less qualified rabbi were roaming the land. He had to die to himself in order to remain true to himself for quite a long time. We know from the Gospel record that already at 1’ years old‚ he exhibited extraordinary qualities unnatural for a child in this age.
Thus‚ it’s safe to assume that the first challenge we have in discovering who we are and what we’re to produce in life and what not to produce‚ is our own self.
The soul was created to imagine and to come up with ideas. This was meant to be a good thing‚ coupled with the drive God put in mankind to take over the earth (see Gen. 1:26-28). But it can be a dangerous mix‚ given the fallen nature of man.
Our soul produces all kinds of ideas‚ thoughts‚ wishes and desires. And as one friend said few years ago “I seem to always be the main character in the movie of my life.” How true! Most of us perceive reality through the prism of “me” rather than discovering the essence of a matter for what it is really.
The answer to this problem is called “dying to self” and there’s a lot the Bible has to say about that. It’s the decision we must make as believers not to trust our own emotions and ideas‚ knowing they can be nothing more than just that – ideas and emotions that pass with the passing of a day‚ week or a month. The way we die to ourselves is by going to the cross of Jesus and leaving at the cross what belongs there – the aspirations and ideas of our carnal ego.
As we empty ourselves of ourselves‚ we make room for Him to pour himself into us.
- The pitfall of trying to produce to impress others.
Jesus had to die to his own ideas and had to wait for the right timing to be released in public ministry. But he also had to deal with the pressure coming from other people‚ including those closest to him.
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea‚ because the Jews1 were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him‚ “Leave here and go to Judea‚ that your disciples also May see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things‚ show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. John 7:1–5
Here’s another example of the pressure Jesus faced from the general public‚ also from the Gospel of John:
So they said to him‚ “Then what sign do you do‚ that we May see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written‚ ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ” John 6:30-31
Jesus’ mother tried to advise him on how he was to handle a difficult situation at a wedding (John 2:1-5)
You get the picture.
To allow other people’s needs‚ ideas or opinions to push us in one direction or another‚ is a real thing and it operates in people’s lives all the time. Don’t do it! Jesus set the example of how it’s possible for you and I to be moved by God’s Spirit‚ not by the pressure coming from other people’s expectation.
- Demonic pressure
Lastly‚ Satan himself and his demons can initiate a spiritual attack to push us in a certain direction where we will try to prove ourselves to the enemy. This can happen through thoughts‚ emotional turmoil or plain old demonic clouding of the mind‚ especially when an occult power is involved. (It’s amazing to me how many people deal with a “clouded” mind condition – even Christians).
And the devil said to Him‚ “If You are the Son of God‚ tell this stone to become bread.” Luke 4:3
Make no mistake‚ this was not about Jesus being hungry or not. After all‚ Jesus had just fasted for 40 days. As someone who has done a 40 day fast (only pointing out what I experienced‚ not trying to impress anyone‚ trust me)‚ I can tell you that the worst part of such fast are the first 10 days‚ not the last. Satan pushing Jesus to turn a rock into bread was about the test of pride and about trusting God or not – about what validated Jesus as the Son of God – the fact that God said so‚ or turning a stone into bread?
This demonic pressure to prove himself as the Son of God‚ followed Jesus to the very end.
“You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then‚ if you are the Son of God‚ save yourself and come down from the cross!” Mat. 27:40
In conclusion: God’s miracle working power is an expression l to heal‚ feed the multitudes and set the demonized free‚ hasn’t been given to us to prove anything – not to ourselves‚ not to God‚ not to anyone. It’s there for us to serve others in humility. We need to be aware of the pressure to do otherwise‚ coming from ourselves‚ other people or even the devil. We must keep the peace of God‚ embrace our seasons‚ even the dry ones and yet be ready to move against circumstances when we know in our gut that this is the right thing to do.
“God‚ grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change‚
The courage to change the things I can‚
And wisdom to know the difference.” ̵’; Reinhold Niebuhr
Like always‚ I look forward to your feedback!
- What ideas might be operating in you‚ pushing you to do some things as a way of proving yourself to yourself and to others?
- Is there someone in your life who can protect you from yourself and your ideas?
- Are you driven to do things for God or are you doing things with God‚ trusting the leading of the Spirit?