Release from Self-condemnation

Devotions for those who are weary of feeling not good enough, regardless of the source of those feelings.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Greatest Obstacle

Week 3  Obey and Partake

Day 16

The Greatest Obstacle

The secret lies just here. That our will, which is the spring of all our actions, is in our natural state under the control of self, and self has been working it in us to our utter ruin and misery. Now God says, “Yield yourselves up unto Me, as those that are alive from the dead, and I will work in you to will and to do of my good pleasure. 
--Hannah Whitall Smith[i]


f partaking of the Lord precedes obedience, we must be freed of the sins that prevent us from wholeheartedly seeking His guidance. Yesterday’s reading addressed the need to release our loved ones into God’s hands; love is powerful, and so in our external lives it is love for other people that poses the biggest threat against loving God. This is what Jesus means when He says we can’t wholeheartedly follow Him unless we “hate” everyone and everything else.[ii]  He doesn’t mean we should forget about our loved ones, but that we can love them best by loving God most. Human love seeks control in order to protect one’s own heart, but God’s love brings freedom, both for the one who loves and for the beloved.

Once we accept the truth of God’s perfect love and sovereign power over the lives of our loved ones, releasing them to His care is actually a vast relief. The same is true when we let go of worry for the future and of our ceaseless striving to keep up appearances. For all the anguish we face as we release our beloved others and material circumstances into God’s hands, there is a much greater battle: the release of self-will. Misdirected love for the world’s pleasures and for other human beings only causes static on the line of our communication with the Lord, but love of self breaks the connection altogether. Thus, the biggest battle we must fight is against our resistance to the release of self-will to God.  

It is an unholy determination to have our own way that can thwart our every attempt to obey God. We have to accept we are never going to have things or people the way we want them before we can embrace the fact that God is going to have things the way He wants them. In the end, when His good and perfect will has had its good and perfect way, we will rejoice with Him. We will be relieved that He didn’t let us have our own way! Meantime we must learn to trust His wisdom and knowledge where our own can’t reach, and if we are unwilling to do that we are going to be unhappy. God has a custom-tailored plan in place for each of our lives. We don’t need to stress over plotting our own course, we need only find His path and follow it.

Pray: Dear Lord, please free me from the tyranny of my own desires. I give You permission to uproot the cord of willfulness that has kept me from submitting to You in everything. I release my will to You; please make it Your own so that my desires are Yours. I choose to submit to You; help me to do it. Please remake me in Your image. Amen.

Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.

 Take My Life and Let It Be, Stanza 3[iii]

[i] Hannah Whitall Smith, The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, public domain.
[ii] Matthew 10:37-39, Luke 14:26
[iii] Take My Life and Let it Be. Words: Frances R. Havergal, February 1874. Music: Louis J.F. Herold (1830). 

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