Monday, October 11, 2010

To tell the truth

Hello! Welcome back to A Good Bible Study.

We are studying "Stress Less," which began as a talk to help professionals learn to de-stress their lives and improve their workplace experience while growing in Christ. But then I realized this is universal, and we can all live a more joyful and stress-less life using these same concepts.

So let's get started, and begin in prayer:

Lord, I thank you for showing us the way to peace, Your peace. You left us this peace, saying it was not as the world offers, but a new peace that begins with the gift of Your Holy Spirit. Forgive us for thinking we have all the answers and that You are unnecessary in our lives. We need you more than ever, Lord. We accept Your peace. You told us to not let our hearts be troubled, or afraid. You told us to stay with You, abide with You, stay connected to You and that is what we will do. Thank You for peace. Help us to receive it beginning today, beginning now. In the name of Jesus, amen.

I told you I would share a little technique I like to call "To tell the truth." You'll like it. I'll get to it in just a minute.

As we continue our exploration of the power of being authentic, I want to open today's lesson with some verses that really demonstrate the value God places on authenticity, or being genuine. Let's look them up together. I will give the New Living Translation, and you compare it to your own Bible's message:

John 1:47 As they approached, Jesus said, “Now here is a genuine son of Israel—a man of complete integrity.”

Romans 12:10 Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.

2 Corinthians 8:8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.

Philippians 2:20 and 22 I have no one else like Timothy, who genuinely cares about your welfare . . . But you know how Timothy has proved himself. Like a son with his father, he has served with me in preaching the Good News.

1 Timothy 1:5 The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith.

James 1:27 Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.

Do you see how each use of the word genuine is followed by an example of behavior? God says that it is by our works that our faith is known to others. Likewise, the way we treat ourselves, and others, is evidence of how we esteem ourselves.

According to the verses above, God values genuineness, or authenticity, and so should we.

Did you know you are at your strongest spiritually, emotionally, mentally, energetically and even physically when you are operating in your authentic self?

So often we try to work against our truth, the source of our strength, by trying to be what we think others want us to be. Common advice is to improve our weaknesses, and build up what we lack, would you agree?

I'm going to suggest the absolute opposite, but hear me out and hear me in the spirit intended. I will never tell you to allow yourself to accept weaknesses in character, such as mistreating people, or refusing to learn decent manners.

I do mean we all have areas that we are naturally great at, and areas we wish we were better at, but just aren't a true giftedness. We call them weaknesses and we all seem to think our weaknesses are the most important aspects of who we are.

Personally, I love to sing. I've enjoyed singing in church, and I love singing in the car, but I have a limited range that I sound really good in, and that's been frustrating for me. I always wanted to be able to sing anything, and sing beautifully, and go up and down the notes without even trying, but it's just not my strength. If it was my calling, it would be easy, and it ain't.

I also love to play sports and as long as I keep it fun and don't get myself in a state of feeling pressured to perform, I'm actually pretty good. Not great, but good enough to play really well in comparison to the average Joe. Gifted? Sadly . . . no.

I may not be truly gifted at singing, and won't be drafted by any major (or minor) sports teams, but boy can I talk. And I can write. And I can encourage people, and I can pray for people with insight and passion, and I can teach my kids how to love to learn. Those are my strengths.

I figured out that I needed to stop ignoring what I'm great at in order to become just good at something else. Guess what? Someone else is good at that so let them have it!

Don't ignore what you are great at merely to be good at something else.

God gave me strengths and gifts. He gave some to you, also. Why?
I want to know why you think these gifts are given?

Did you answer: to ignore; to discount; to put down; to pooh-pooh; or to de-value?

But is that what you have been doing? Why was I wasting time trying to be something I wasn't created to be? I don't need to sing for everyone else. I need to sing for God and enjoy that.

What we need to get is get excited about the gifts and strengths we have been given, and focus on those. Stop living down to your weaknesses and start living up to your strengths!

Stop living down to your weaknesses and start living up to your strengths!

What are your strengths? What are your gifts and talents? What comes easily to you? What gives you energy? What do you feel most like yourself when you do it?

Write it down NOW.

These are things God created in you and for you. Stop telling God He was wrong! Stop stealing someone else's thunder. Stop defining yourself by what you aren't and start defining yourself by what you are! 

I'm going to prove to you that you are the strongest you will ever be when you are operating from the truth of who you are.

Get a buddy and hold out your arm in front of you, straight. Have your friend ask you a question that you can answer truthfully to, like what is your name. As you answer, have them push down on your arm and try to make you lower it. You will be strong.

Now, have them ask you another question to which you will answer dishonestly, like "Were you born at the bottom of the ocean?" Say "yes." As you answer have them press again on your arm to try and make you lower it. See the difference?

Cool, right? Go ahead and trade places and do it again. It works every time.

Let's pray:

Lord, we are strong when we are operating in our truth. We are so sorry for having de-valued your gifts, instead looking to see only the things we see as weaknesses to be improved. We are fearfully and wonderfully made and from now on we are going to celebrate that fact! I don't need to be good at everything. I can let someone else have their gifts. I can enjoy what they are good at, because now I see I am good at something, too. If I have never considered myself good at anything then open my eyes to the wonderful traits you have placed in my DNA. Thank you Lord for helping me to see my strengths and help me to focus on them from now on. In the name of Jesus, amen.

Love, Karen

Photo by Dinostock, courtesy of


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