Tag: Paul Tripp

I Am … My Relationships

I Am … My Relationships

I Am … My Relationships

Last week I wrote you about identity in achievement. While God calls us to be fruitful and productive, could it be that you’ve looked to your success to provide identity, meaning, and purpose? Achievement alone is not an evil thing, but once that false identity begins to define who you are, you’re in danger of compromising who God has called you to be. Here’s a second area where we might find a replacement identity: Here’s a second area where we’re at risk for finding a replacement identity:
2. Identity in Acceptance
God created us to be social beings. His plan, from day one, was for us to live in meaningful community with one another. Our relationships are so important to God that He positioned the command for us to love one another as second only to the call to love Him (Matthew 23:37-39). Those relationships must be a very high priority as we make our daily decisions.
Yet, in our sin, many of us look to other people to do the one thing they were never designed to do – give us identity. If we’re parents, we tend to try to get our identity from our children. We begin to live vicariously through them, as if their successes are our successes. And when we need the success of our children in order to feel good about ourselves, we’ll do anything possible to make them succeed.
We tell ourselves that it’s for them, but in reality, it’s for us. We become smothering, domineering, success-obsessed parents. But we’re blind to it, because we’re always able to say that it’s good for them. If anything, their success is a hymn of praise to another Father who provided everything they need to be where they are and to do what they’re doing. As parents, we’re never more than instruments in His redemptive hands.
Perhaps your marriage is the place where you seek identity. You live for the next shot of acceptance and appreciation, and the love of your spouse is the thing that makes you feel most alive. You’ll feel alive when they notice your efforts and seek your company, but your joy will come crashing down when you feel ignored or taken for granted.
This is all very dangerous. No sinner can ever be your rock and fortress. No sinner can give you a consistent reason for hope. Sooner or later, everyone around you will fail you. But there’s an even greater danger here.
As you look to this person for identity, you’re not really loving them – you’re loving you. You’ve turned the second great commandment on its ear. Instead of serving people because you love them, you’re willing to serve them so that they’ll love you. This kind of parasitic relationships is never healthy.
Our children were never given to us to be trophies on the mantel of our identity. Our spouses were never given to us to be personal messiahs. No relationship should be the source of our identity, because we look to people to give us what only God could give. We ask our relationships to provide us life, contentment, happiness, and joy, but sooner or later, like anything other than the Creator, they’ll fail us.
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1. Are you asking flawed people to provide for you what only the Creator can provide?
2. How might some of your expectations for your relationships be unrealistic and unbiblical?
3. How does identity in Christ allow you to combat the temptation of finding identity in your relationships?
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God bless
Paul David Tripp
“Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life”
Be sure to add “[email protected]tries.org” to your address book.

If Only

If Only

If Only…

It’s so easy to slip into an “if only” lifestyle. I find myself slipping into it often. The “if only” possibilities are endless:

  • • If only I’d been from a more stable family.
  • • If only I’d had better friends as I was growing up.
  • • If only my parents had sent me to better schools.
  • • If only I’d been given better intellectual gifts.
  • • If only that accident hadn’t happen.
  • • If only I’d had better physical health.
  • • If only that degree program had been as good as advertised.
  • • If only I’d been able to find a better job.
  • • If only I didn’t have to fight the traffic every day.
  • • If only I’d been able to get married.
  • • If only I hadn’t gotten married so young.
  • • If only I’d understood marriage more before I got married.
  • • If only I had a more understanding spouse.
  • • If only I’d come to know Christ earlier.
  • • If only I’d found a good church when I was young.
  • • If only I didn’t have to struggle with my finances.
  • • If only it was easier and more comfortable for me to communicate with others.
  • • If only I could find a small group that I could be comfortable with.
  • • If only I could have had children.
  • • If only my children were more obedient.
  • • If only I knew the Bible better.
  • • If only that boss hadn’t fired me.
  • • If only I had a better place to live.
  • • If only I could find some place where I feel like I really belong.
  • • If only God seemed closer to me.
  • • If only I didn’t have to work so hard to make ends meet.
  • • If only…

The seductive thing about our “if onlys” is that there is a bit of plausibility in all of them. We do live in a fallen world. We all face hardships of various kinds. We all have been sinned against in a variety of ways.

None of us ever lived in ideal circumstances or in perfect relationships. The world is a broken place and we have all been touched in many ways by its brokenness. Yet, the “if only” lifestyle tends to say, “My biggest problem in life exists outside of me and not inside of me.”

In Psalm 51 David says something very radical. It’s counter-intuitive to a culture that tends to say that we all are the result of what our experience has made us. David says, “Surely I have been a sinner from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

David is saying that his greatest problem in all of life is not the result of what he has suffered in the situations and relationships of his life. Rather, David is saying that his biggest problem is internal and was there before he had any of these experiences! And David gives this deep and internal problem a name – sin. How humbling!

Think about it this way. It’s the evil that is inside of you that either magnetizes you to the evil outside of you or causes you to deal with the evil outside of you in a way that is wrong. It’s only when you begin to accept that your greatest problem in all of life is not what has happened or been done to you, that you begin to get excited about the rescuing grace of Jesus Christ. It’s only when you begin to accept that your greatest need is something you came into the world with, that you will begin to hunger for the help that only God can give you.

It’s only then that you begin to hunger for more than changes of situation and relationship. It’s only then that you begin to accept the most radical and personally liberating truth that you could ever conceive. What is that truth? It’s that what you and I really need to be rescued from is us! We are the biggest danger to us. That’s why God offers us the gorgeous promise of his grace which has the power to change us from the inside out.

Are you embracing that promise or are you still saying, “If only…”

  • • Make a list of the “If Only’s” that you find yourself repeating. If you’re stuck, I’ve included a much longer list here on my website.
  • • If you’re honest, who do you blame most? Circumstances, relationships, situations (outside), or a heart that’s corrupt (internal)?
  • • How can you become more self-aware that your biggest problem exists inside of you, not outside of you?

God bless

Paul David Tripp

Sinners and Unafraid

Sinners and Unafraid

Sinners and Unafraid

Wednesday’s Word is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information about Paul Tripp Ministries, visit www.paultripp.com

The older you get the more you move from being an astronaut to an archaeologist. When you’re young you’re excitedly launching to worlds unknown. You have all of the major decisions of life before you. You spend your time assessing your potential and considering opportunities. It’s a time of exploration and discovery. It’s a time to go where you’ve never been before and to do what you’ve never done. It’s a time to begin to use your training and gain experience.

But as you get older, you begin to look back at least as much as you look forward. As you look back, you tend to dig through the mound of the civilization that was your past life, looking for pottery shards of thoughts, desires, choices, actions, words, decisions, relationships, and situations. And as you do this, you can’t help but assess how you have done with what you have been given.
Now let’s think about this for a moment. Who would be so arrogant and bold as to look back on their life and say, “In every possible way I was as good as I could have been?” Wouldn’t we all hold some of those pottery shards in our hands and experience at least a bit of regret? Wouldn’t all of us wish that we could take back words that we have said, decisions that we have made, or actions we have taken?
Here’s what all of this means: If you and I are at all willing to humbly and honestly look at our lives, we’ll be forced to conclude that we’re flawed human beings. And yet we don’t have to beat ourselves up. We don’t have to work to minimize or deny our failures. We don’t have to be defensive when our weaknesses are revealed. We don’t have to rewrite our own histories to make ourselves look better than we actually were.
We don’t have to be paralyzed by remorse and regret. We don’t have to distract ourselves with busyness or drug ourselves with substances. Isn’t it wonderful that we can stare our deepest, darkest failures in the face and be unafraid? Isn’t it comforting that we can honestly face our most regretful moments and not be devastated? Isn’t it amazing that we can confess that we really are sinners and be neither fearful nor depressed?
Isn’t it wonderful that we can do all of these things because we have learned that our hope in life isn’t in the purity of our character or the perfection of our performance. We can face that we are sinners and rest because we know that God really does exist and He is a God of:
Mercy
Unfailing love
Great compassion
Because He is, there is hope – hope of forgiveness and new beginnings. Yes, we really can fully acknowledge our sin and failure and yet be unafraid!
• What are some of the “pottery shards” that you regret most?
• What is keeping you from letting go of past regret?
• How can you daily remind yourself of God’s mercy, unfailing love, and great compassion?
I want to leave you with one final phrase. It’s my own personal reminder of what it means to be a sinner and unafraid:
There’s nothing that could ever be revealed about you that hasn’t already been covered by the blood of Jesus
God bless
Paul David Tripp
“Connecting the transforming power of Jesus Christ to everyday life”

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