My friend, may I ask you a question today? Do you become discouraged the more you think about yourself and your own failings? Perhaps you love yourself too much, placing unrealistic expectations on a life God has given you to realistically govern by faith and not longings?
My friend, life’s a story, welcome to This Passing Day. I’m Mark Brunner. .
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We live in a culture fascinated with self. I was watching a commercial on cable TV recently for women’s hair coloring products. There were of course the closeups of a 30-something brunet flinging her hair about and smiling coyly for the camera. There were flashbacks to an unhappy girl (the same one) with dowdy colored hair. The voice over for the 30 second spot had a very specific message for especially the female viewing audience. “Discover your true self.” The message was if you have a hair color that you didn’t like or were tired of, changing that color to another color was easy. All you had to do to look exactly like the model with the beautiful hair was to purchase the product and use it. There was exciting background music and a climatic splash of water and a fade out in the end leaving you with the thought that using this particular product would be both exciting and life changing. The message burrowed deep within the message was this: “Life can be discouraging if you aren’t happy with your hair. Change the color of your hair and life will be fun again. You deserve the opportunity to make the mundane into something exciting. Miss this opportunity and you might not find the happiness awaiting the woman who is willing to change the color of her hair.” Broadly speaking––it was fine to be discouraged with your hair because discouragement can lead to a change that brings happiness.
Christian writer Oswald Chambers once wrote that “discouragement is disenchanted self love.” After watching this commercial, more than a few times, it became very clear to me what Chambers was referring to. The more we think about ourselves and our own failings, the more we tend to be discouraged without reason. When we love ourselves too much, we place unrealistic expectations on the lives God has given each of us to realistically govern by faith and not longings.
A thought from William Ward. “Discouragement is dissatisfaction with the past, distaste for the present, and distrust of the future. It is ingratitude for the blessings of yesterday, indifference to the opportunities of today, and insecurity regarding strength for tomorrow. It is unawareness of the presence of beauty, unconcern for the needs of our fellowman, and unbelief in the promises of old. It is impatience with time, immaturity of thought, and impoliteness to God.” (Today in the Word)
When the rich young man in Luke 18:23 heard the words that Jesus spoke concerning happiness and the suggestion that he sell his goods and follow him, Scriptures tell us that he walked away discouraged. Obviously he wanted to make a change or he wouldn’t have asked Jesus about being a disciple. Yet, he became discouraged when Jesus presented him with the challenge to love him more than his possessions. The rich man was discouraged not because he missed the opportunity to become a disciple and make the change that might lead to a new life, he became discouraged because he thought too highly of himself and, thereby, became disenchanted with the thought of making this dynamic change. When we focus on ourselves in this manner it is easy to become discouraged, just like that new brunet supposedly would have been had she not made the color change on her hair. Perhaps the greatest challenge you and I face in this life is the challenge of the rich young man. Are we more devoted to the idea of following Jesus than to Jesus himself? The former may lead to discouragement and the latter will always lead to a truly happy change in lifestyle.
We pray. Heavenly Father, thank you for presenting us with challenges in life that lead to positive yet sometimes difficult changes in our lives. Forgive us, Lord, when we become discouraged by the things you ask us to do because we are more concerned with the own happiness self than the happiness of serving you. In Jesus name we pray. Amen!
Therefore my friend, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry for itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matt 6:34) This Passing Day.
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