Do you keep making the same mistakes over and over again? Do you continue in the same toxic relationships from year to year? Have you ever wondered if there is something that you are doing to keep you from reaching your dreams and accomplishing your goals?
I’ve found that it is too easy to get up each morning, struggle through the day, and fall wearily exhausted into bed at the end of the day, only to get up the next morning to do it all over again. Yes, it’s easy to live your life day in and day out this way without really enjoying the life that Christ came to earth to give you. I’ve decided that I don’t want to live life this way anymore. The quality of my life is very important to me. I want all that God has set aside for me. How about you?
Remember Joshua and the Israelites, the people God had called Moses to lead? Well, Joshua puts forth a challenge to them in Deuteronomy 30:19 that applies to you and me today. “See,” he says, “I set before you today life or death, blessings or curses.” In other words, we must choose the type of future we want. Do we want life and prosperity or death and destruction? If we say that we want life and prosperity, but are constantly making the same poor choices over and over again, then we are sabotaging our lives.
Please repeat after me, “I won’t sabotage my life.” Let’s say it again. “I won’t sabotage my life.” Sabotage takes place when a person deliberately tries to weaken another person, organization, or thing through being rebellious, a stumbling block, difficult, troublesome, out of order, or destructive. You may be wondering, “How in the world can I be sabotaging my own life?” I know it’s tempting to think about people you know who may be out of order, destructive, a stumbling block and difficult to live with. But God wants you and me to take a look at our personal lives to see if there is something we are doing, or not doing, that’s keeping us from possessing the blessings that God has put aside for us.
I have to periodically analyze what’s going on in my life. Do I allow these negative attitudes to take up residence in my home? If I do, then I am my own saboteur, my own enemy.
1. Procrastination – Putting off what I should do today until tomorrow (Romans 12: 11) Some say that they work best under pressure. I think that living with unnecessary stress in your life is not wise. I truly believe that God, our Heavenly Father, speaks to his children and tells them, even reminds them, of important tasks they need to do. When we do not follow through, we are actually being disobedient and grieve the Holy Spirit, who’s job it is to lead us.
2. Dread – A negative attitude about doing something I know I have to do (Hebrews 12:1) Dread goes hand in hand with procrastination. I’ve discovered that having an attitude of hope and gratitude helps dread to disappear. Putting the hard things at the top of my “To Do” list helps. Then I break the difficult tasks into more manageable smaller steps. Sometimes I blow tasks up until they are the size of Mt. Everest in my mind. I have to focus on God’s ability more and remember that He is a very present help in the time of trouble and He promises never to forsake me.
3. Worry – Negative meditation and feeling of anxiety and lack of control over a circumstance. (Psalm 55:22) Either I can worry or I can trust God. I choose to trust. I choose to have faith that His Word is true. His character and love are perfect. His promises are for me.
4. Fear – Unsettling, anxious emotions resulting from real or imagined threat or danger or future pain. (2 Timothy 1:7) One of my favorite scriptures is “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. ”
5. Self-Centeredness – Being absorbed in getting my wants and needs met, with general disregard for others. (Ephesians 4:32; 1 Timothy 6:11) Life doesn’t always have to go my way. Everyone has needs and wants. Looking out for someone else enhances my life. Sacrificing to help others softens my heart and keeps my priorities in order. When I’m tempted to panic about my needs, I’m learning to remember that God will supply all my needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19). It’s challenging not to get caught up in the great ‘world versus God’ debate. I know the world offers bling. But haven’t you heard? Everything that glitters is not gold. I don’t want to gain the world and lose my soul. (Matthew 16:26; Mark 8:36; Luke 9:25;) I need to treat others like I want to be treated.
6. A Poor Self-Image – Not seeing myself accurately by magnifying my weaknesses and minimizing my strengths. (Isaiah 43:4; Philippians 1:6; Jeremiah 31:3) The only thing that improved my self-image was when I realized that I was truly loved unconditionally and accepted by God. Because Almighty God loves me, it frees me to love myself.
7. Doubt– A lack of faith (Proverbs 3:5-6) Let’s take a look at 1Kings, the 18th chapter, where we find one of the greatest debates you will ever read about. The prophet Elijah summons the people from all over Israel to meet him on Mount Carmel for a showdown. He told King Ahab, who tried to worship idol gods, to bring his 450 false prophets and his wife’s 400 false prophets, and they were going to have a throw down on the mountaintop. This is the question Elijah then put to Israel: “ How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” But the people said nothing.”
I think that that’s how it is today. God is saying to us, “ How long will you waver between two opinions? If I am Lord of your life, follow me; but if the world is your God, follow the world.” And then we do what the Israelites do; we say nothing. We try to straddle the fence with one foot in the kingdom and the other in the world. We sit back and wait for a showdown. We say through our actions, “God show me something I want to see so I’ll know that you’re real and then I’ll follow. And then we look at the world to see what it has to offer to tantalize us, and make us feel happy for the moment. And we bounce back and forth between trusting God and trusting the prince of darkness who rules the world. We don’t realize that when we are doing that, we are not walking by faith, but by sight. We are proving that we don’t believe that God is who He says that He is and can do what His Word says He is able to do. When we wait to see God move before we trust Him, we are sabotaging our lives. Really, we are saying that we don’t believe that God is trustworthy. We are saying that God might be a liar and His Word may not be true. We doubt. (By the way, I’ll tell you more about Elijah and the Big Showdown next time.)
8. Lukewarm Love – Having a non-committed or partially committed attitude in a relationship. (John 13:35; Romans 12:9, 10) Have you ever been on the receiving end of lukewarm love? I have. I didn’t like it. I’ve dished out that kind of love myself. I found it was a waste of time and emotionally draining to the relationship. God hates lukewarm love. He wants us to love Him with all of our hearts, minds, strength, and souls and our neighbors as ourselves.
9. Lack of Self-Control – Being undisciplined and unduly permissive; living without boundaries. A consequence of not having the wisdom to fully treating myself or others in a loving way. (John 15:26; 1 Corinthians 10:13) I’m learning that self-control is for my benefit. It honors God and blesses others. It’s a result of setting and maintaining honorable boundaries in my life, and is one of the character traits God brought when He came to live in me. I’m continuing to develop my self-control with God’s help.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 says that “It is God’s will that you and I be set apart as someone sacred; that we should avoid sexual immorality; that each of us should learn to control our own body in a way that is holy and honorable; that we should not wrong or take advantage of others. God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.” Which view, God’s or the world’s should we trust to make our lives better, and help us to live a moral life with excellent character? Which viewpoint will sabotage our lives; the world’s or the Word’s?
I can’t stress enough the negative impact that each of these 9 factors can have. They drain your life of the power that Jesus wants you to have. That’s why I’m encouraging you to talk to God about them. I encourage you to no longer put up with any of these attitudes or negative thinking patterns that are keeping you from enjoying the life that Jesus died for you to have. Don’t let them sabotage your life.
Remember Joshua’s challenge: “For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God; listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 30:15-20.)
Next time, we will continue to examine some of these stumbling blocks or ways that we can destroy our potential, our relationships, and future. Until then, think about the challenge. What do you really want: life and prosperity or death and destruction? I pray that you have chosen life. Let’s begin by saying, “ Starting today, I won’t sabotage my life.”