What do you need to give up in order to be free to carry out God’s plan for your life?
God has a plan and destiny for your life. Just as our fingerprints are unique, the path to discovering God’s plan for our lives is also unique. But every great pursuit or accomplishment takes sacrifice; it takes the hard work of character, courage, and conviction to discover God’s plan for our life. As exciting as discoveries may sound, they can also be scary and overwhelming.
When I first began taking my relationship with God seriously and learning more about him, I was excited, but also really afraid. I thought of my relationship history and I had many examples of quitting when things were hard. I kept thinking to myself that I would repeat history and quit on God as well.
However, the more I changed, the less my fears controlled me. As a matter of fact, the more I decided to not let my fear of failure control me, the more I learned about God and started enjoying him instead of being consumed by my fears. This personal change happened when I gave up sinful and unhealthy patterns in my life and relationships.
So, the question we must all answer is this: What do I need to give up in order to be free to carry out God’s plan for my life? In this study, we will be learning a few lessons from the story of Zacchaeus.
Only the resilient change
“Jesus entered Jericho and made his way through the town. 2 There was a man there named Zacchaeus. He was the chief tax collector in the region, and he had become very rich.”Luke 19:1-2 NLT
Zacchaeus was very wealthy, but even his wealth and status did not satisfy him. Have you ever gotten something you longed for only to find out that it didn’t satisfy you? What did you do as a result?
I grew up always wanting my parents to get me the new Jordans. And once I got them, I was filled with excitement although it didn’t last very long. I always wanted the next one, and the next one, and the next one.
Are you always chasing the “next” thing? Sooner or later, you will discover that chasing the “next” thing is a never ending cycle that will leave you dissatisfied. Perhaps, it’s time to reflect and consider that there is something you must change internally.
“He tried to get a look at Jesus, but he was too short to see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree beside the road, for Jesus was going to pass that way.”Luke 19:3 NLT
Zacchaeus wanted to see Jesus, but he was too short. What obstacles in your life make it challenging to discover God and his plan for your life? What’s your attitude when faced with obstacles? Are you resilient or do you quit?
Growing up, I had to deal with a lot of empty promises. Over time, I decided I wouldn’t let myself feel anymore because I hated how vulnerable I felt when once again, I was faced with yet another empty promise. Interestingly enough, when I began to learn about God, I realized that I began to project my fear of disappointment on God. I was always afraid that God would let me down. This was an obstacle I had to face and although it was emotionally difficult, it was also very rewarding. I had to decide not to be a victim. It was time to change my view of God.
Zacchaeus teaches us the importance of not quitting and going to any means necessary to discover God. What if Zacchaeus simply went home because he was too short? He would have completely missed out on discovering God and his plan for him.
Can you identify with these different forms of quitting?
- Denial – we quit, but we act like we are still pushing on.
- Defeat – we become comfortable with not winning.
- Discouragement – we learn to live without passion and joy.
“When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. “Zacchaeus!” he said. “Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.” 6 Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy.”Luke 19:5-6 NLT
Zacchaeus didn’t care about being ridiculed by others. He simply cared about seeing Jesus. His humility led him to risk his image in order to see Jesus. Humility gets Jesus’ attention. Jesus stopped, looked up, and called Zacchaeus by name. And with excitement, he invited himself over to Zacchaeus’ home.
- What would happen if you were humble, choosing to care more about what God thinks instead of how people see and perceive you?
- Are you willing to risk your image in order to find God?
“But the people were displeased. ‘He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,’ they grumbled.”Luke 19:7 NLT
Humble people are not easily offended by critics because they are focused on changing. The people around him grumbled while Zacchaeus marveled at Jesus’ being a guest in his home.
A call to change
“Meanwhile, Zacchaeus stood before the Lord and said, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!”9 Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a true son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”Luke 19:8-10 NLT
Zacchaeus was motivated to change and he wanted to make things right in his life. He demonstrated a willingness to take responsibility and do whatever it took to reconcile relationships in his life.
Jesus was moved and inspired by his willingness to change. This willingness to change is the true evidence of humility.
The real evidence of humility is not based on the words we say, but on the actions we take to change. I remember when I decided to reconcile my relationship with one of my siblings. I decided to stop pointing fingers, take responsibility for my bitterness and choose to care again. Although I was afraid of getting rejected, I decided to take action and our relationship radically changed.
“All who seek to live apart from me will lose it all. But those who let go of their lives for my sake and surrender it all to me will discover true life!”Matthew 10:39 NIV
Jesus teaches us that we can’t discover true life unless we let go and surrender to him.
What do you need to give up in order to be free to carry out God’s plan for your life? How will you let go today so you can begin to discover or rediscover God?