Approaching winter break with godly brokenness
It doesn’t take long before a holiday or vacation break reminds me of why I am a Christian.
When away from routine, the body of Christ, daily devotional habits, and from God’s Word, it’s only a matter of time before my break has beaten me.
It usually beats me up with lies, bad habits, poor self-control, loss of vision, lack of purpose, and selfishness.
The devil lies in wait for poor Christians who jump into holiday break, and realize too late they have fallen prey to him (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan can all too easily devour us spiritually, and even after we regain control, we beat ourselves up with guilt and rob the cross of its shame-swallowing power.
As Christmas nears, let’s be broken rightly. Let us enter our breaks with humility. We need a right view of ourselves on the front end so we will not be humiliated by break’s end.
Below are four steps for the rightly broken to pursue before their breaks begin. Don’t get caught by surprise.
Pray, “Stay Away”
There is a reason Jesus teaches His disciples to pray this way: “Our Father who is in heaven…lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
If given the opportunity to fall and fail, I will most likely fall and fail.
My best defense in the Christian life is not my ability to fight sin, but God giving flight to the sin in me, around me, and before me. I don’t even want to encounter it. It can and will crush me. I am prone to deception, distrust, and disobedience at every turn.
As you pray, ask God to slay the world and your fleshly desire. Remind yourself of your broken and beaten nature. You have wandered before and are “prone to wander…prone to leave the God [you] love” again.
Be sobered by your susceptibility, but don’t end there. Remember Him who for you was broken and beaten to destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8).
Jesus was sacrificed to deliver you from all that you fear.
He has recreated you. He has remade you. You are not who you used to be. Sin used to be natural and normal; now it’s just not you anymore.
Get a grip
The proverb could not be truer: “The wise man sees danger and hides himself, but the fool walks on it and pays the consequences” (Proverbs 27:12).
Foresight is crucial to godly living.
Rightly broken break-goers will contemplate all that awaits them and make an action plan in anticipation of it.
The foolish will brazenly, with head cocked, invite sin or presume upon it and be humiliated by it.
You will pay consequences this break, or you will reap blessings.
Be wise, know your failure-prone frame, and invest in a plan based on 1 Timothy 6:11-12:
“But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
Locate the four imperatives Paul gives to Timothy and use them as an outline of your plan:
- Take Hold
Quite frankly, there are just some things that you need to steer clear of this break.
God wants you to flee them. You don’t need to be close to them, around them, or tempted by them. The pressure is too great.
It may be a group of friends, a past boyfriend or girlfriend, or a substance. It might be a context or environment.
Steer clear and FLEE.
But what do you need to PURSUE?
Think about opportunities to meet with God, to memorize His word, to pursue godly mentors, good influences, and be around the body of Christ.
Seek out unbelievers for evangelistic opportunities.
Pursue God’s Word with a personal devotional plan, church attendance, and Bible study gathering.
Pursue God’s people during meals, at ministry events, or one-on-one coffees.
Don’t be isolated, but take the initiative.
Pursue God’s mission by praying for the lost and connecting with unbelieving friends through intentional meals and coffees, not just in group settings.
There will be some things, however, that you cannot run from, but you will inevitably run into, and you will be forced to FIGHT the good fight of faith.
You will encounter Satan’s lies in your head, possible unhealthy family relationships, the mirror in your bathroom, and the idleness that is sure to come.
List them out. Write them down. Battle them proactively and reactively.
What promise or truth will you plan to claim when it comes? What course of action will you take when it’s upon you?
Be prepared and script out how you think God will want you to respond at that moment.
You won’t need to think about what to do in that moment; you will just need to act upon what you have already thought, planned, and prayed about.
But more than anything, TAKE HOLD of the good news of your salvation.
It purifies us when we fail, and it protects us by means of future humility as it reminds us of all that we have been forgiven and freed from.
Get a good, firm grip on the gospel.
When you succeed and ward off the Enemy, it’s by grace. And when you don’t, it’s grace that restores you back to clean standing with your God that very moment.
The gospel is your greatest gift this holiday season.
Don’t spurn it; use it.
Stay out of the dark
Two of the hardest conversations in the world are asking someone if they want to accept Jesus as Savior and asking someone out on a date. Oh, the agony of waiting for their response!
But the third hardest must be telling someone about your moral failure.
It’s a real shame that confession of sin is so novel to the local church when it should be so normal.
We are all moral wrecks, and it should come as no surprise when a sinner confesses his need for his Christ. That is all it is. It’s saying, “Look how much I need Jesus!”
When you fail, don’t disguise yourself, but divulge yourself.
Don’t hide your sin, but shine the light into the dark places of your life.
Confess that big elephant in the middle of the room.
We all know it’s there and it’s in all of us, but very few are willing to admit it.
If you keep it silent, you will most likely repeat, repeat, repeat. But if you share it there is a good chance your brother or sister in Christ can help you slay it.
“For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” (John 3:20-21)
Come to the light and shed light on that elephant. You are not telling us something we don’t know.
Just don’t get beat by the same sin twice.
Don’t get beat thrice
The entire point of this article is to keep this idea of brokenness before you.
Should your break break you? Well, yes and no.
As you contemplate your break, think over who you are and your fragility, and be sobered by the depravity and decay of your soul apart from Jesus.
But on the other hand, your break should not break you to pieces.
A holiday break should not be the time the Enemy licks his chops, waiting to devour. He should fear, run, and hide at the sight of a saved sinner walking in his earthly abode.
For he knows that saved sinners are the rightly broken and not the pridefully presumptuous.
He knows that God gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).
He knows that although they appear weak, they are made perfectly impenetrable in God’s power.
But when you fall, confess to God and others and keep from being beaten twice. But surely don’t be beaten thrice. Christ beat it for you, and what He has beaten, you have too.
Don’t run into ruin, guilt, and condemnation, and thus empty the cross of its cleansing power.
Relish in God’s love for you in your weakest and most disgraceful moments. You are His!
Don’t let sin beat you thrice. Live in grace and not guilt. And if anything, let His love pour over you and break you like never before.
Sweetly broken is our new song!