Have you ever had this problem?
You have something that you know you should be doing, yet you don’t do it.
Maybe it is exercising or reading your Bible or completing a certain task at work.
Often, it is more about stopping a bad habit than it is doing a new thing. You know you should quit, but you can’t seem to do it.
You Are Not Alone and You Are Forgiven
If this is you, you need to understand that you you are not alone.
I can’t speak for everyone, but I know a good number of us suffer from the very same issue.
Even the Apostle Paul struggled with this. Look what he said:
I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. Romans 7:15 NLT
This is a common human dilemma. So, please stop beating yourself up. All that does is leave you feeling defeated and depressed.
If your struggle is with sin, then you have to accept that as a Christ Follower, you are forgiven for all your sin. If you have difficulty buying this, then I encourage you to meditate on these scriptures:
He has removed our sins as far from us as the east is from the west.
Psalm 103:12 NLT
[All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus Romans 3:24 AMP
And [Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV
God is big enough to handle your weaknesses. He already dealt with ALL of it through Jesus.
How to Make Progress Despite Your Weakness
Even though we have forgiveness, we still can’t just give up. Here’s how Paul dealt with this very question:
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
Romans 6:1-2 NKJV
The best life is found beyond indulging our every whim. Therefore, we need a way to overcome our weaknesses and move past our old tendencies.
Often, we try to do this by sheer willpower. Here’s how this usually plays out for me:
I am not going to do that thing. In the process, that thing controls us almost as securely as it did when we were doing that thing. “Fully Alive” by Ken Davis
Ken calls this the Brass Monkey Principle. He relates it like this:
A college speaker taught me the lesson indelibly. “Tonight, when you go to bed,” he said, “I’m asking you not to think of the brass monkey. As you pull the covers back, you may think of anything you’d like-but don’t think of the brass monkey. And all day, whenever you think about going to bed, remind yourself not to think of the brass monkey”
That night when I pulled back the covers of my bed, brass monkeys were frolicking on my nightstand, perched on my lamp, and screeching and chattering beneath my pillow. They were everywhere, inescapable. Throughout the day I thought about nothing but brass monkeys.”
The point is, the more you try not to focus on something, the more your mind’s eye is drawn to that very thing.
Diets force you to think about what you are eating – food. Therefore, you obsess over it and eat all the time. You can apply this same logic to a multitude of scenarios.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I’ve got this all figured out. But, I do have a couple of observations that might prove useful to you that I’d like to share.
1. Focus on Going Instead of Avoiding
Focus on where you want to GO instead of what you want to avoid.
As the brass monkey illustrates, a big part of this whole issue has to do with directing your thoughts properly. You have to intentionally command your mind in the direction you want it to go.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8 NIV
Your actions will follow wherever your mind leads.
2. Leverage Your One Track Mind
Your brain can only manage one thought at a time. You may have a lot of single thoughts in very quick succession, but still they are individual thoughts.
You can leverage this to your advantage.
A technique I use is to memorize some of what God says about me so, I can substitute these thoughts when I’m feeling weak.
- I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. (Rom 8:37)
- The Lord is my shepherd. I lack nothing. (Psalm 23:1)
- I am a new creation. The old is gone, the new has come. (2 Cor 5:17)
- I can do all things through Jesus who gives me strength. (Phil 4:13)
- I am dead to sin. It has no power over me. (Rom 6:11)
By occupying my mind with God’s Word, it has no time to wander where I don’t want it to go. Plus, His Word is powerful. It is, “alive and active” (Hebrews 4:12). This goes beyond positive affirmation. By reciting His Word, I am activating the power of God in my life.
God Will Provide a Way
Shortly after Paul penned, “What I want to do, I do not do,” he proclaimed, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Despite our weaknesses and the struggles we face, God provides a way. We have no reason to despair because God delivers us.
We just have to open our eyes, believe what He tells us and copy Him.
Where do you stand on all this? How do you overcome your struggles? Tell us in the comments so we can all benefit.