In a typical week, I conduct anywhere from one to five job interviews. Someone I interviewed recently asked me what qualities I look for in a new hire, so I gladly shared. I’m looking for someone who is hungry and a hard worker. Someone who is willing to go above and beyond for our collective mission. However, what I’m not looking for is a workaholic. Workaholics get their identity solely from the things they do. It’s a vicious cycle and often you’ll find these individuals trailed by injured people they’ve stepped on along their path to the top.
I have become pretty great at identifying these people because of how familiar they seem—I too have had a long-term struggle with striving. There were years of my life where I allowed my self-worth to rise and fall with each success or failure. There was a season when I would begin welling up with anxiety when the sun began to set, fearing I had not done enough in the day. It turned out the solution to my stress didn’t come from learning new leadership methods or time management techniques; it came from spending time with God and really learning to trust Him through His Word.
Living in this world is tough, y’all. But “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 6:12 NIV).
Well, that got dark fast! We usually don’t want to think about this reality, but it is just that—reality. There is an enemy who would love to downplay our value and distract us from knowing our identity and putting on the breastplate of righteousness that is found through Christ.
Our best hope in suiting up for battle daily is to guard our hearts with the breastplate of righteousness. I am so thankful that there’s nothing I can do to earn or lose the righteousness of God. Jesus took care of that.
“But now the righteousness of God has been clearly revealed [independently and completely] apart from the Law, though it is [actually] confirmed by the Law and the [words and writings of the] Prophets. This breastplate of righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all those [Jew or Gentile] who believe [and trust in Him and acknowledge Him as God’s Son]” (Rom. 3:21–22 AMP).
Righteousness is a gift, provided by God. It’s not about achieving or following rules. It’s about being made right in the eyes of God, which is something only He can do for us. Our job is to keep focused on our faith in Him, learning to trust Him, and believing the Word. And then comes the hard part—living like it. I’ve wasted too much of my life striving and chasing impossible perfection. Now I want to spend the rest of my life leaning on what God has already done for me.
The verse in Romans tells us there is an interconnectedness between righteousness and faith. If we want to grow in righteousness, we grow in faith. And faith is developed through time spent with the Lord.
My six-year-old, Tatum, recently said to me, “Mom, sometimes when I really want something I’ll ask God for it and He always does it!” Of course, to most adults, that would seem like a foolish statement. Those of us who have been around a while have experienced times when God didn’t answer our prayers in the way we would have preferred. We know He is not our genie in a bottle. But hearing these words from Tatum, I recalled a time when I too believed this. A time when I had faith like a child. A time when I just simply trusted that the Lord would come through no matter what. I want that kind of ridiculous faith in our unfathomable God again.
After walking with Jesus for over thirty years, I have learned through joy and struggle that what I must put my faith in is the unchanging character and promises of God. When I spend time reading the Word, praying, and listening to the Holy Spirit throughout my day, I grow in relationship with Him. I trust Him more. I get to see Him show up for me in the great moments and the tough ones. I see my identity as a daughter of God and as a co-heir in the righteousness of Christ.
When I’m truly listening to Him, I become more aware of my character, attitude, and actions. God reveals fruit in my life that is a result of growing in Him and sometimes He reveals rotting evidence that I have stopped following as closely. As I examine myself, I am not looking for perfection, but I am looking for growth. My goal is growth so I can have a better attitude today than I had yesterday. I want to grow so I seek God first when things in my life go sideways.
If it were easy to stay focused on walking in faith and pursuing the righteousness found through Christ I wouldn’t be writing this and you wouldn’t be reading it. It’s hard, friend. We are in a spiritual battle every day. No wonder we get so exhausted sometimes. Let’s cling to God. Let’s protect the most vital of organs, our heart, with the breastplate of righteousness.
Prayer: God, be with the woman reading this. Let her sense Your presence. Hem her in, behind and before. Let her open her hands and confess and let go of past sin, unbelief, and striving. Let her accept not only You, Jesus, as her Savior but as her daily companion. You redeem us every day. You make us righteous. We’re throwing in our confidences and commitment with You, God. Because we’re gonna fail. We’ll never hit perfection. But we can grow in knowledge of You as we pursue You. And that’s what we plan to do. Amen!
Tip: They say a habit is created in twenty-one days. Commit for the next twenty-one days to spend time with God. Read your Bible, pray, and listen. Keep a journal every day too. Let’s see how your life has changed at the end of twenty-one days!
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Maribeth is a creative, get-outta-the-box instigator with over twenty years’ experience leading and
encouraging people professionally. You could call her a business exec, speaker, blogger, worship leader,
podcaster, entrepreneur, or mentor, but whatever you do, don’t call her late for Taco Tuesday. MB loves
lighting a fire under people who want more for their lives. She believes if you invest in building
incredible people, you can grow an incredible organization. In her free time, you can find her cooking authentic Mexican food with her husband, Chris, at their home in Tennessee and trying to keep their four boys from tracking mud through the house.
Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.
Copyright © 1973, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved
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registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™
Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible (AMP), Copyright © 2015 by
The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org.