Why can't I stop messing up?

Janet Roberts

The night I gave my life to Jesus I didn't hear angels sing, but I knew something extraordinary happened in me. I was confident in my salvation until my husband accepted Christ and became the perfect Christian. OK, that's an exaggeration, but it looked that way to me. Why did I have more mess-ups in my life than he did? Because my life didn't measure up to his, I began to doubt that I was really saved.

Looking back I see now that my relationship with Jesus was not a point of arrival, but it is a continually unfolding personal journey. Comparing my Christianity to my husband's caused me to have doubts. But as my relationship with Jesus grew, I was set free of those doubts.

How God Responds To Runaways

Jesus said being saved is being a child of God (John 3:3-6). The reality is that children sometimes make bad choices. Jesus tells us how God feels about one of His children who makes some serious bad choices in the story of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).

The father in this story is a good man who loves his children and provides for their needs. His youngest son, however, thinks he can do better on his own. He leaves home with his share of his father's fortune and lives like a wild man. He ends up alone and ashamed, penniless and sharing dinner with pigs.

At that destitute point he realizes what a mess he made of his life. Not only did he squander everything his father gave him, but his lifestyle is a slap in his father's face. To survive, however, he is going to have to humble himself and go home. His plan is to beg his father's forgiveness and offer himself as a servant.

The problem is that this young man didn't really know his father. He expected distance and judgment, but what he received instead was love and grace. When the father saw his son, lacking and dirtied by a sinful lifestyle, his heart was filled with compassion not anger. He ran to him, held him close and welcomed him back as a son.

Knowing Something vs. Knowing Someone

Messing up as a Christian is a normal part of growing up as a Christian. It’s OK not to be OK, but it’s not OK to stay that way.

Messing up as a Christian is a normal part of growing up as a Christian.

Christians who are stuck in a pattern of continual sins are like the son in the story. We may not know our Heavenly Father well or obey Him consistently, but nothing can change the fact that we’re in a relationship with God (Romans 8:38-39). He has more than enough love and power to help us change (1 John 4:9, 2 Peter 1:3).

Getting to know God is just like getting to know a person. It takes time and it is intentional. God reveals Himself in the person of Jesus and the words of the Bible. Information + Application = Transformation. When we spend time reading the Bible and doing what it says, it changes us into people who live like Jesus (Romans 12:1-2).

The best way to stay on the course of transformation is with community (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Consider joining a NewSpring Group where you can hang out with people who also want to grow in their relationship with Jesus. No matter how many mistakes we make, we can encourage, support, and learn together how to follow Jesus.

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