To all of my Christian brothers and sisters, I have a warning and an encouragement for you. Whether you're wondering what the Lord's will for your life is, you feel inadequate to accomplish your calling, or if you're not living the sanctified life you need to be living, you're in danger of being disqualified. However, the only reason I want to share this with you is because you have hope in Jesus to get back to where you need to be.
It was one of my first sparring sessions at the Floyd Patterson Boxing club when I discovered a very important tip on how to fight effectively: listen to your coach without taking your eyes off your opponent. I was fortunate to have learned this the easy way instead of the hard way. My sparring partner was trying to hear what his coach's instructions and took his eyes off me for a split second. In that split second I landed a nice stiff jab right to his face. It was such a good shot I had to apologize since he was my friend, but he told me I was actually doing the right thing by taking advantage of that opportunity. The fact of the matter is in a real fight my opponent would have done much worse given the chance.
The point is the enemy will take whatever shots he can, no matter how cheap they may be, just to take you out for good. If you stop doing what you're called to do due to a feeling of inadequacy, the enemy of our souls has won this battle.
There are two types of convictions we all feel from time to time. There's the conviction that leads us to repent of our sins and make things right and there's the conviction that leads to a feeling of condemnation. Obviously it's the first type of conviction that comes from the Lord since,
"There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:1)
The latter form of conviction comes from the devil himself because he thrives on the sight of Christians giving up the fight for whatever reason. Satan cannot harm you, he can't steal your soul, he can't change your mind, the only thing he can do is whisper lies in your ear. Lies that you're not worth the trouble God has gone to for saving you, or that God's wasting His time dealing with your problems all the time and how you need to just get out of God's way so He can finally get some work done.
This is why when you find yourself in a season of chastening from the Lord, don't let it stop you from doing what you need to be doing. Discipline was designed by God to build us up and make us stronger. It's only given to those who are worthy of it. Let's look at what the Bible says about Christian discipline.
"For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. 4 You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. 5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,
Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;
6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens,
And scourges every son whom He receives.”
7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. 11 Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it."
I'm glad the writer of Hebrews points out how discipline can sometimes be painful because I otherwise would have had a very difficult time over the years wondering what's going on with me. Why waste your time writing up the lazy employee if he doesn't show any improvement after the write up? He'll only continue being lazy because he knows he can continue doing poorly as long as he doesn't lose his job. The good employee, however, will take the discipline to heart and figure out how to do better in the future. We can't deny the fact that we all make mistakes, we all fall short of where we need to be. Perhaps instead of wallowing in self-doubt and self-pity, let's take the chastening as a sign God believes we can do better.
Discipline isn't always physical though, it can be a harsh rebuke from someone you trust. I had made the decision to try my first amateur boxing match and I chose one coach in particular because I knew he was going to be tough on me all the while believing I can do this. While we trained, he cursed, he yelled, he even slapped me upside my head a number of times, but at the end of the night I was so overwhelmed by gratitude for his discipline I hugged him. Yes, even after getting smacked around and cursed out as much as I did that night, I was so grateful to have someone in my life who will lay it out on the line for me because he wants to see me do well. I didn't let it stop me from moving forward, it drove me to work harder. If I gave up, my opponent would have won automatically. I also know if I stop what I'm doing in the middle of the round, I will get hurt and will not deserve any sympathy.
In conclusion, keep fighting and moving on the advance for God's kingdom. In moments of setback, take what you can from it and rejoice. Never stop fighting no matter what. Don't even stop to think whether you're good enough to do what you're doing for the Lord. If the Lord called you to do it, He has qualified you to be good enough for the job. So I leave you with this: are you going to get out there and continue fighting for the Lord or hang up your gloves?