By Dr. Charles Stanley
Would you describe yourself as joyful, peaceful, and happy? Or do you constantly pursue good works and accomplishments as a way to feel significant? If so, you may be leading a life filled with striving.
People who live that way tend to believe they are unworthy before God or others. They don’t allow themselves the so-called luxury of spending time meditating on the Word, and instead choose to do something “more important.” Many times, this mindset is accompanied by a feeling of tremendous guilt over any time taken to rest.
Let me assure you of this: Striving will never result in your salvation. Nor will it produce the inner quality God desires to see in each of us, which is trust in Him. Striving saps joy, peace, and contentment from your life. It will drain your energy and produce a constant feeling of inner exhaustion, depression or discouragement. But God’s Word declares:
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom
And the man who gains understanding…
Her ways are pleasant ways
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who hold her fast (Prov. 3:13, 17-18).
Those who walk wisely will experience “pleasantness,” peace, and happiness. Wisdom is likened to a tree—a living, enduring shelter that provides inner rest during the storms of life and in the heat of trouble. We may experience moments of fear, discouragement, or pain. But when adversity hits, God’s wisdom reminds us of three important truths: He loves unconditionally, is in control at all times, and walks with us through suffering.
When we know with certainty that God is in control—that He loves us beyond measure and is at work in our lives—we have the genuine capacity to worship Him, even in the worst of situations. Offering praise and thanksgiving for all things, in all circumstances, is the pathway to lasting joy.
At the very core of our self-image is the desire to be loved. Only our heavenly Father can fully satisfy that need. When we come to believe that He deems us worthy of His unconditional love, you and I have the foundation for a healthy, godly self-esteem.
We read in 1 John 4:19, “We love, because He first loved us.” God is continually reaching out to us in love, not because of anything we initiate or do, but because He has chosen to love, pursue, forgive, and conform us to the image of His Son Jesus Christ.
What awesome assurance that our God is sufficient in all times and for all circumstances! Believing with our whole heart that He loves us and is working for our good brings us joy. Trusting with full confidence that God is with us every moment of every day brings us contentment. The One who governs and guards us is the One who gives us joy, peace, and happiness.
Do you still believe that your sin keeps God from loving you? If so, realize that you are placing limitations on the Father’s unconditional love. You might say, “God can’t love me because of my sins” or “I haven’t done enough to warrant God’s love.” But the truth is that the Lord loved you even before you trusted in Him (Rom. 5:8), and His love is a gift that can’t be earned. God loved you first and will always love you. Repent of your sins and be forgiven—change your ways and grow in Jesus Christ. Remember, no matter what, His love for you is unwavering.
Adapted from “Walking Wisely: Real Guidance for Life’s Journey” (2002).