What would you say to a person who kept trying the same thing over and over but never achieved the result they were trying to get? I believe Albert Einstein called this a definition of insanity. Yet, we have all been there and done that unless, of course, we have received a nudge to awaken us out of our slumber and realize we need to change our ways. From trying to make things work in our physical training, to our marriage, to our walk with God – from time to time we all get stuck in a rut. We may not realize we are there, but when we do realize it, sometimes with a help from a friend to point it out, we suddenly feel the need to do something. So, what should we do?
First understand the situation from God’s point of view and His “wake up call:”
Haggai 1:5–7 (ESV) — 5 Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. 6 You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes. 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways.
Revelation 2:2-5 (ESV) 2 ” ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. 3 I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. 4 But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
These words above are quite applicable in the call from the prophet Haggai to “consider your ways,” then to look at all that is not right, then to again “consider your ways.” Have you done that? This is not a call to beat yourself up, rather to consider your ways in order to make a change by God’s grace.
Then look at the words sent to the church of Ephesus and see the great application for us. We may be doing some of the right things in life but missing out on the real power found in knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoying a daily walk with Him. Too often we get satisfied with achievement of knowledge, accomplishments, or even sacrifices of service. These are admirable actions, but if we, as in the case of this church, have left our first love we have missed the mark. So, consider your ways.
Aren’t you glad that when the Word of God points out our mistakes, God doesn’t leave us in the mud hole of life and say things are just helpless? Rather, God points out a need to change and calls us to repent, to turn from the useless way we’ve been doing things incorrectly over and over and focus on the basics again as we see in the words to the church at Ephesus in His admonition to “remember, repent, and restore.”
But how? By relying upon the power of the risen Christ, in the basic call to reset our focus and not be satisfied with anything less than enjoying Him.
Philippians 3:8-14 (ESV) 8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Notice the power and the purpose of a life that is focused on knowing the Lord Jesus Christ and fellowship with Him. That’s where the power to live is found no matter in what circumstances you find yourself. This is a growing process. Paul clearly states that he’s not there yet. He hasn’t arrived, but he is focused on where he wants to be and is pressing on for the goal.
Isn’t that what you really want today? If you are a believer and need the power of Christ in your life so you can say with confidence, “I CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” (Philippians 4:13) then He is what you need – not more learning, achievement, and service. Those things may flow from knowing, loving, and enjoying Him but He is the focus, not a system. He is not found in the lifeless rut of just doing for doing sake – rather He is found in coming back to the basic need of loving Him with all we are and have, focusing on His Kingdom, rather than trying to make Him fit into ours.
Mark 12:29–31 (ESV) — 29 Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 6:33 (ESV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Let’s go back to the church of Ephesus which was doing a bunch of right things but missing the mark. Jesus says they left their first love. So how does He recommend they get it back? Here’s the lesson for us to quit doing what is not getting results – even when we try extra effort:
Revelation 2:5 (ESV) Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
It’s a matter of coming back to the basics: remember, repent, restore, and repeat are actions that Jesus recommends to get us refocused on Him.
- Remember what you experienced when you first came to Christ and you loved Him for Who He is and how you really enjoyed Him.
- Repent or turn around because you have missed the mark. Change is not easy, especially when it means admitting that the things done have been ineffective in getting results.
- Restore what has been missing, namely your first love, by coming back to the basics of the Gospel and refocusing on Him.
- Repeat what you did when you first just loved Him and wanted to just enjoy Him. Things like enjoying times of gratitude in your prayer life instead of feeling like you have to pray for every person you ever knew and getting so bogged down that you just quit praying. Things like allowing yourself to enjoy one verse of scripture instead of feeling like you have to get through 16 chapters and get so discouraged that you just quit reading. Just go back to simply loving Him and enjoying Him as you fellowship with Him.
He is not looking for performance. He never based His love for you on your performance. The more we get away from trying to perform and the more we focus on Him, then we enjoy the greater power we’ll have from Him, and the more we’ll accomplish in the long run. Only it will not be done by us, so there will only be one place to give glory – Glory to Him.