Encourage – Recovering Pharisee

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Testimony of Encouragement #8

Meet Annie …

Hypocrite

Controlling

Fearful

Those three words may seem totally independent of one another, but in truth, they all stem from the same place inside me that does not trust God. Yeah, you heard me right.

I was raised in a wonderful Christian home. Not without its faults. My parents did their best to teach me how to Love God and Love People. I was (and still am if I’m honest) a headstrong, do it my own way, kind of girl. I’m a kinesthetic learner; I have to learn by doing. And most of my younger years consisted of learning what not to do before I learned what to do.

I was raised around some strong women. My mom, my grandmothers and my aunts, they all did their best to speak truth into my heart. But I didn’t come to an understanding of who Jesus was and how much he loved me until after I had graduated from high school. And it was hard.

I watched these beautiful Christian women in my family and at my church and I was angry. They weren’t perfect. I watched them be hypocrites behind their closed doors. It took years of studying scripture before I realized that we are all hypocrites. In Romans 7:15-20, Paul talks about the power of sin in our lives and how we do what we don’t want to do.

So in all those years of trying to be good and keep the commandments of God I never felt close to Him. I always fell short of where I was supposed to be. I became very fearful and never wanted to actually speak to God. What would He say? I mean, He knew the real me. He knew what was in my heart and that I would never measure up. So instead of speaking to God, I continued to try to fool those around me. It became all about appearances to me, always looking for the holes in someone else’s story. Because, if I couldn’t keep the law, then neither could you.

Out of that sense of fear grew a need to control everything around me. And soon, not just me, but also those around me. Keeping up the appearance of good is a lot harder than it seems. If God is supposed to be the God of peace and understanding, something was not measuring up. Why was I so tired and worn out?

So taking a closer look at what Paul was saying in Romans 7, after all the seemingly rambling he does, I think maybe the point is: God gave us The Law and it was cumbersome and unattainable. Maybe God made it that way so that it would continually point us to our need of a savior. The Law was never something to be mastered, but something to show us our own depravity. Then, in His perfect timing, He gave us Jesus, our Savior.

When Jesus came he came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it. He came to live the Law to perfection and without sin. He was crucified on a Cross and buried. The Law was buried with Him and when He rose again on the third day, He ushered in a time of Grace. He set us free from the heavy weight of the law. He set us free from sin and death.

I no longer have to be afraid for God to see me as I truly am because it’s what He’s seen in me all along. I am a broken girl who cannot follow the rules who needs a Savior. I am a recovering Pharisee who is finding peace in God’s plan for my life. When I fail I no longer run and hide from Him, but I run boldly to the throne of grace and into His wide open arms. I no longer see God as an old man ready to condemn me but a loving father who wants to restore me. And I never want to lose sight of that.

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So what’s your story? Do you know God as a loving father? Or are you still trying to keep the unattainable law?  Stop fighting and run into the arms of Grace. God is who He says He is. And He can do what He says He can do. He is patiently waiting. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”

Friends, it took me way too long to understand that we need not only a savior, but each other. God calls believers to live in community with one another. The book of Titus lays out what seems to be yet another list of rules to follow, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find a group of men and women living in community. We are called to push each other toward true holiness. Encourage one another without condemnation. We women are called to teach each other what we know, passing down understanding from one generation to the next. So sisters, let’s throw off this competitive spirit we tend to hold onto and instead hold fast to our freedom in Christ and hold onto each other. Hand in hand let’s charge into the dark places and share the light of Christ. Are you with me?

I hope you’ve been inspired by Annie’s testimony.  Join us again next Monday for another encouraging look at how God can change a life surrendered to Him!

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