Every week, I go through the “Girl Talk” section of Project Inspired and look for those seeking advice and counsel. I want to help answer some questions you may have about living out your Christian life and walk of faith! We want PI to be a safe place where you can ask questions.
This week a PI Girl asks a very important question about being overly strict when it comes to faith. This reminds me of the difference between being under the law (Old Testament) and being under the grace of God (New Testament). We need to have a healthy balance between the two pendulums, but it does take wisdom.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Here is the PI Girl’s question (join the chat here):
“I always take things to the extreme, one way or the other. Last year, I was so focused on pleasing God and being ‘perfect’ for Him that I ground myself to the bone, I exhausted myself. Eventually, this summer, I started having extreme anxiety over it, worried I was going to step out of line. I would isolate myself, cut myself off from the things I enjoyed and physically fast for unhealthy amounts of time. All the while being afraid of what God would do if I stepped out of line. Now, though, I’ve come to associate pursuing God with that anxiety and frustration and nervousness, and that’s caused me to veer off in the other direction. I basically do whatever I want, not thinking of what it does to my heart. I spend most of my time looking at stupid Tumblr posts because I can’t bear to spend time with God, out of fear. I’m scared of not being able to enjoy myself. The purity I had in my mind is gone, and I have no desire for reading my Bible or listening to Christian music or going on sites like PI. I feel hopeless and way too far gone. Please help.”
The fact that she recognizes this issue and is asking for help is a great start. We all need to be walking in the fruits of the spirit. If you feel the spirit is being quenched and you start to walk in religion (acts out of duty or works) instead of faith and relationship (genuine desire to obey and honor God), cry out to Jesus and ask Him to take away your burdens and ask for wisdom. We all need to examine ourselves and see if we are doing things out of works or the spirit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
A few scriptures come to mind when answering this question. First of all, this can happen to any one of us. We can tend to overthink about things and then sometimes it leads to worry, fear or anxiety, which is not of God. (I’m not talking clinical anxiety, but the idea of being overly worried all the time.) This is not healthy and does not help our lives when we are always worried. God knows our hearts, and while we were sinning, Jesus died on the cross for us. This isn’t a license to sin, but you need to give yourself some grace, rest and forgive yourself. Give your burdens to Jesus. Let it be.
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
It says in the Bible that a righteous person can fall seven times and will get back up (Proverbs 24:16). To this PI Girl, I say there is hope for this situation—you are doing the right thing by reaching out and asking someone for advice. Also, I will be praying for you and anyone reading this who experiences this type of worry. It isn’t a bad thing, like you are going to be punished for wanting to obey God, but when we give in to fear and other things God instructs us to not do for our protection, it can lead to harm. God says “Don’t fear” so many times in the Bible and also tells us not to worry (Matthew 6).
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God… (Philippians 4:6)
As believers, one of the greatest tricks of the enemy is to make us think we have to EARN our way into heaven. Sorry, you CAN’T! If you could, we wouldn’t need a savior, Jesus, who died on the cross and shed His precious blood for you! There must be an animal sacrifice or shedding of blood for sins. The Old Testament (Old Covenant) is where the Jews practiced these customs (animal sacrifice) and are reflected upon in the New Testament in the Bible when Jesus steps in and becomes the ultimate sacrificial lamb—to die and pay the penalty of sins. He paid the price for all of our mistakes, shame, guilt, fear, sickness, doubts, diseases ONCE AND FOR ALL on the cross.
In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (Hebrews 9:22)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
Jesus said on the cross right before His Spirit ascended into heaven: “It is finished.” What do you think that means? It means what it states: It is done. We don’t need to rehash past sins or stay bound to the OLD life. The dead man or the old you is gone, and with new life in Christ you are a NEW creation! My friend, don’t fall for the lie Satan wants you to think—that you will never be good enough and that you need to EARN your way to heaven. It may even SEEM good, but sorry, it will not do it. That would demean the cross.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8)
Jesus paid it all! KNOWING this truth and realizing it, and receiving the free gift, is overwhelming at times, I understand. Sometimes these things take time (everyone is in different stages of their faith), but once you have the full revelation of what God did for creation, you WANT to obey, you want to do it out of a genuine heart. It is about a relationship, not out of a task-mastering religious place, if that makes sense.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Let us all pray for wisdom, balance, peace, joy and freedom! Oh, the Lord is so good, isn’t He? We all have ups and downs, but don’t beat yourself up. Just stay strong in your faith and believe God is always with you! Like a loving parent, even when a child disobeys or is out of order, the parent still loves the child, correct? The same goes with the Lord: He sees all, knows all and perceives everything, but loves us the same yesterday, today and forever! Wow!
Do not be over righteous, neither be over wise—why destroy yourself? (Ecclesiastes 7:16)
PI Girls, I am praying for you! Comment below with prayer requests! Feel free to ask questions and to message me at facebook.com/ChristiGiven. God bless you!