You know the person who criticizes you most quite intimately.
This critic's voice is always in your ear, pointing out what you should have done, mocking what you have done, and ignoring your rebuttals. While others may contribute to the criticism, usually we are own worst critics. We hold ourselves to an impossible standard that keeps us scrambling on a cycle of trying harder, failing, feeling ashamed, on and on. Throw in constant comparisons to others and the ups and downs we're bound to experience each day, and it's no wonder that we often struggle in our faith.
When we accept the free gift of salvation and embrace God's loving forgiveness through Christ, we no longer face condemnation from any source. Even when it seems easier to believe God has forgiven us than it is to forgive ourselves, we must learn to quiet our critic. As we grow in our faith, we become more aware of our true identity, God's child created in his image for good works.
God says you are worthy. Confidence comes from swimming in the depths of God's love. Don't believe what anyone else - including yourself - may try to tell you.
Perhaps it's human nature to boast. Even the most humble among us want to be appreciated and valued for our contribution. We want others to notice what we bring to the group and affirm our unique skills and talents. Sometimes we might help others notice our efforts, either through direct bragging or the way many people disguise it as false modesty.
In either case, we're wanting to take credit for something that we've created, built, selected, achieved, accomplished, or won. With our salvation, there's no way we can take any credit whatsoever. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We can't earn his favour or save ourselves.
Jesus came to do what we could not. Through his sacrifice, we have eternal life simply by accepting his free gift. There's nothing we can do to buy it, or earn it. We are all equal recipients of God's love and grace.
We often think of 'needy" people as being ones in tough situations with nowhere else to turn. Homeless people and those in crisis, caught up in domestic dysfunction or addictions, are obviously in need of help. But the truth i that we are all needy, No matter how hard we work to disguise our needs and appear self- sufficient, we need support, encouragement, and assistance from other people.
Whether it's money for groceries or encouragement to ask for a promotion, our sense of inter-dependency reflects the way God made us. He doesn't expect us to have everything together and take care of ourselves alone. He created us to be in relationships as part of a larger community.
Sometimes we must let our guard down and allow others to see how much we really need them.
Underground springs often provide water for fertile areas even when there's no water present on the surface. Sometimes these areas become bogs or swamps, lowlands where the water bubbling beneath the ground doesn't drain away. Vegetation and animal life flourish there even though it might look surprisingly calm at first glance. Often, change and growth take place even when we can't see it.
The same is true with our spiritual lives. God's Spirit within us provides a wellspring of Living Water to nourish and sustain us. And while we may not feel as though we're becoming more mature or deepening our faith as we walk with the Lord, growth is taking place nevertheless.
Our Father provides everything we need to grow. His Spirit is at work even when we can't see what's going on.