So, here’s a question I want to ask you, “Are you where you want to be in your walk with Jesus?”
Right now, if you translated what you think about your walk to a scale of 1-10, how close would you say you are walking with Him? (1 being “not at all,” 10 being “We walked on water together this morning!”)
Walking closely with Christ over time, makes you more and more like Him, and becoming more like Him will uniquely influence the people around you. So, how do we get off track?
In 25 years of pastoral ministry there are three MAJOR things that I see over and over again which keep people from experiencing the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10.
#1 – Unforgiveness
There are people who have experienced real suffering at the hands of others. Maybe you were molested, falsely accused, or cheated on—these offenses carry significant and lasting emotional pain and you won’t simply “get over it.” How do we deal with these things as followers of Jesus who are called to forgive?
There is nothing about forgiveness that is easy, but it is one of the most freeing and powerful things you can do. It is also the basis of our new life. If we don’t live forgiveness we are denying the very basis of our own new existence in Christ.
As Jesus was being mocked, beaten and tortured in public prayed for the forgiveness of His tormentors in Luke 23:34.
And then there’s that thing He said in Matthew 6:14-15
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
To put it simply – “Forgiven people forgive people.”
Forgiveness is not a feeling. It’s not something we offer to people when we think they “deserve it!” It’s a decision followed by a series of other decisions every time we have a negative thought or emotion towards someone that hurt us. We decide, “in this moment, right now, in spite of how I feel, I choose to forgive.”
#2 – Sexual Sin
All sin is destructive, but sexual sin seems to carry extra power to erode our faith in Christ. The Apostle Paul highlights the effects of sexual sin in I Corinthians 6:18 when he says…
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body.
Paul uses strong words when talking about sexual temptation. Don’t flirt with it - RUN from it. Then he uses the phrase, “…all other sins.” Yes, sexual sin is in the overall pile of things that separate us from God, but sexual sin can create scars of guilt we carry with us in ways other sins do not.
When Jesus saves us, He forgives us from ALL OUR SIN (see Colossians 2:13) In its place he gives us permission to live a life free from sexual sin and the guilt associated with it (see John 8:1-11.)
#3 – Money
Jesus clearly says in Matthew 6:21 that a person’s heart is where their treasure is.
He also said in Matthew 6:24 money can easily become the master of your heart in ways that should only be reserved for Jesus.
Early in life my parents taught me the importance of allowing God to lead my financial decisions. I learned quickly that when I put all I have in the hands of the ONE who is more capable than me, He can do way more than all I ever asked for or imagined.