Stop Trying, And Start Believing
by Jesse L. Smith
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“Now the just shall live by faith…” –Hebrews 10:38
Growing up in a mostly white community in the central San Joaquin valley my understanding of ‘diversity’ was limited to a handful of people I knew who represented different cultures. When my family moved to the Bay Area I was introduced to what real diversity looked like. The city of San Jose alone represents the most culturally diverse place on earth, with people of nearly every nationality living there. A diverse place however isn’t necessarily a tolerant place, and the communities were often segregated by race along very distinct lines. This had the effect of producing one of the most racially conscious places I had ever been in, and it was common to classify people first by their background and then make judgments about them based on local stereotypes. Something about this grieved me deeply, and I felt the Holy Spirit minister to me, “For the LORD sees not as man sees; for man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.” – 1 Samuel 16:7
I knew that God was challenging me to see people the way that He saw them, as souls first and not according to the outward appearance. However, knowing the standard that God wanted me to live by only seemed to make me more racially conscious than ever. I would look at a person and think to myself, “OK… I am not going to look at the outward appearance” – but in the very act of thinking that I was thinking about the outward appearance! The more I tried to free myself from being racially conscious, the more racially conscious I became. Feeling like a complete failure I cried out to God in my shame and He spoke to my spirit very clearly, “Stop trying, and start believing!” Up until that point I had been trying to be like Jesus through my own ability, instead of believing that Jesus and His love were inside of me. The last several months had proved that it was impossible for me to love the way Jesus wanted me to, and now it was time to let Jesus Himself love through me.
The approach was radically different from what was doing before, because before I needed to focus on the problem to overcome it. Instead of focusing on the problem, now I was focusing on Jesus – and believing that His love would flow through me whenever I would see anyone. It was the most freeing thing in the world, and it worked! I couldn’t boast within myself saying that I had disciplined myself to see people the way God does, because that proved to be an utter failure. It was only when I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t love like Jesus that I was able to allow Jesus to step up and start loving through me. Suddenly the message of the gospel became very clear to me, and what it really means when it says that the just shall live by faith.
Many of us view Jesus as only being our Savior at the beginning of our walk with Christ. It is as if we think the purpose of the cross was to give us a clean slate and a fresh chance to get things right the next time around. Nothing could be further from the truth, as we are just as much sinners after the cross as we were before it. In fact sometimes we get even worse in our sin after we come to Christ, because we learn more about the standards that God wants us to live by. But the good news is that we were never meant to live up to those standards, and we can’t. The Apostle Paul said, “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am fleshly, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that I do not; but what I hate, that I do.” –Romans 7:14-15 Paul realized that it was impossible for him as a fallen human to live by God’s Holy standards.
What the world needs more than anything else is Jesus – and He lives in our hearts by faith. God never intended for us to focus on all sin in the world, but on Him instead! If the Holy Spirit reveals an area in your life that needs to change, He already knows that you can’t change it on your own. Just as the children of Israel were tormented by poisonous snakes and couldn’t save themselves, we have no ability to live a righteous life on our own. But when Moses lifted up a bronze snake on a pole that represented Jesus, they received healing by looking at the image. Today we receive healing through faith in the power and love of Jesus inside of us. Romans 5: 17 tells us, “…they which receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Christ Jesus.”
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Jesse thank you for this very clear and concise article on how we struggle to adjust our perceptions. Which obviously is the wrong approach. Whereas we must simple trust God to fine-tune us from the inside out. The Lord bless you for your insights into this common struggle. How joyous it is to behold Christ loving indiscriminately through us.