It is possible to live the Christian life always straining for something more and always dissatisfied and guilty because you haven’t attained it.
It could be your own perception of your love for God, or gratitude for the gospel. Other people seem so much more deeply affected by God than you are – they even tear up when they talk about something they learned in their devotions. So you pray for more love and gratitude, but all the while a subterranean river of doubt gnaws at your soul. What’s wrong with me?
It could be your sense of worth or value to your church. You want to be used by God, so you look for opportunities to minister, to lead in discussion or prayer – and yet you never feel God’s pleasure in your actions, only a restless sense of dissatisfaction coupled with a fear of those more gifted than you and a constant analysis of your own performance. Am I doing well enough?
It could be your overall sanctification. You know you need to grow in humility when you’re corrected, or patience with your kids, or selflessness towards your wife. But instead of faith for the change process you simply feel overwhelmed with a spiritual to-do list. There is no joy in your relationship with God or spontaneous worship arising from your soul. If you dared to articulate your subconscious prayer to God, it would be something like this: Just give me a little longer and I’ll get this fixed.
All of these struggles have a common theme, a non-biblical but very descriptive word: insecurity. Security, according to one dictionary, is “the assurance that something of value will not be taken away.” Insecurity, by contrast, is a perpetual fear that you are about to lose something valuable or experience something negative. If we translate insecurity into biblical language, it is a false refuge or false savior in place of God. My performance is my refuge, not the sovereign, almighty Lord, and so I must perpetually prop up the crumbling walls of my performance castle. It’s a vicious cycle.
So what’s the solution? How do we get off the treadmill of insecurity? Two things: repent of the idolatry, and believe the promises of God. Let’s analyze the second one.
Insecurity always takes the promises and benefits of the gospel – joy in God, peace, forgiveness of sins – and makes them like apples high in the boughs of the tree which only the ladder of performance can reach. Yes, the gospel is good news – and if I could just make myself climb one step higher up this ladder I’d be able to enjoy it! But we never feel like we’re high enough on the ladder, so we’re perpetually insecure, never able to believe and enjoy the promises of God and the blessings of the gospel.
The glory of the gospel is that God brings the blessings to us, exactly where we’re at.
At some point our hearts must take refuge in this: though I will always be in process, God wants me to believe and enjoy the blessings of the gospel now. The happiness of the man whose sins aren’t counted against him (Romans 4:8) is meant for me right now, for this morning’s sin that I confessed but still feel guilty about.
Insecurity is a deadly way to live your life. It saps the energy, joy, and life out of your soul. Sometimes it feels godly when you’re insecure about spiritual things, but it’s not. It’s a sin. Believing the promises of God cuts the heart out of insecurity by placing our feet on a solid foundation – not our performance, but Christ’s – and an unshakeable refuge – the Lord Himself.
Are you perpetually insecure? Then repent and believe the gospel afresh!