Chances are, especially if you’re in a leadership position, you’ve taken some sort of strengths finder test.
But no one takes a weakness finder test.
For many of us, it seems as if a spotlight shines on our mistakes and weaknesses. We’re well aware of the ways in which we fall short, and we often habitually focus on them.
We assume God must be displeased that we still can’t seem to get it right. We assume He’s focusing on our faults as much as we are.
In reality, this viewpoint neither fits with the foundation of Christianity, nor with the kind of God we follow.
It’s Not Who We Are
God hates sin. He hates it because He hates that which is opposed to truth, beauty, His loving will and desire to protect.
But God’s hatred of sin is only part of the picture. The other part, of course, is His incomparable love for us — one that is so zealous and all encompassing, He couldn’t help but make a way for us to escape sin’s bondage.
Enter Jesus Christ. While we think we know the meaning behind Jesus’ death, and most of us have “accepted” it for our personal lives, the real litmus test comes with our response to sin. If we become preoccupied with its ugliness, hanging our heads in anxiety and shame, we’re likely not absorbing the truth that we are much more than our faults.
If Christ has truly taken our sins, then clenching onto them is not what pleases God. When we feel we need to punish ourselves, we are actually devaluing Jesus’ sacrifice — even exalting our perceived ability to redeem ourselves or finish His atonement.
The Scripture says, “W ithout faith, it is impossible to please God.” So we can give ourselves permission to let go of our striving, and we can surrender to believing the job is done. It is this surrendering that opens us to experience what we are meant to: God’s peace. “It is for (this) freedom that Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1) in the first place.
We must remember this reality and learn to believe it at deeper and deeper levels. Nothing gives us the opportunity to do this like the awareness of our faults.
Rather than using our faults as a chance to punish ourselves, perhaps we can consider them the invitation to not only practice our faith, but also to grasp the intense love of God.
God’s Approach With Us
God does not identify us by our sins. It’s almost as if He sees things the other way around — while we might magnify our mistakes, God magnifies the beauty given to us. He is not intimidated by our weaknesses, like we so often are. He sees their power as already dissolved by the cross.
When we feel guilty and perceive God as sternly pointing out our faults, perhaps we can recognize it is really just our own voices or the enemy’s. We can choose instead to listen to His quieter voice that tenderly repeats, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1). We can recognize that God is a God of deep compassion.
Does this mean we should overlook our sins? Not at all. When we see issues in our lives, we are asked to take them seriously, to present them and ourselves to the only One who is able to help us, teach us and grow us into His likeness. After all, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
We are simply meant to know God embraces us no matter the severity of the sin, so that we will not recoil in shame, but come to Him in comfort. We are meant to understand that God does not define us by these issues, and therefore we shouldn’t either.
God is not disappointed in you. Far from it.
The Hope We Need
Our souls are wearied by the weights we put on ourselves. We are often dried up by self-criticisms and judgement. We try to motivate ourselves with fear and shame — the idea that we are bad people until we change. But that tactic simply isn’t effective.
Staying in shame keeps us stuck. And God knows this. So He chooses to motivate us by giving us knowledge of who we really are, and awareness of His unconditional kindness. He knows that only gracious love brings us healing and the ability to love ourselves. It then gives us the strength to let go, and move forward in hope.
Simply, there is a precious and freeing truth that God wants us to receive deep down. That is, we are beautiful; and He is pleased with us. He even “rejoices with singing over us” (Zephaniah 3:17). May we be willing to accept this message. May it inevitably draw us closer to Him, and serve as water to our souls.