We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups. What's yours?
Stress? Fear? Overwork? Unhealthy or unholy attractions? Addictions? Regrets? Worry? Bad habits? Anger? Dishonesty? An overwhelming need to control? Finances? Perfectionism? Resentment? Compulsive thoughts? And the list goes on.
Every problem in your life has the same root cause. Every problem in your life starts when you play God.
Jesus starts His famous Sermon on the Mount by saying, I want to tell you eight ways to be happy. And the way you think you're going to be happy is not at all the way the world tells you to be happy. Jesus states each of these eight ways to be healthy as what we call a "beatitude," and we refer to them as life's healing choices.
The first beatitude is the first healing choice, which I refer to as the reality choice, for getting rid of your habits, your hurts and your hang-ups that mess up your life. Matthew 5:3, the first Beatitude "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (MEV).
And what does it mean to be "poor in spirit?" It means I admit I need help and that I'm powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing, and my life is unmanageable. That is what it means to be poor in spirit. It means to acknowledge that I can't control and manage everything in my life and I need God's help.
The second choice is the hope choice. It is the choice to earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, that he has the power to help me to change. It's based on the second beatitude, found in Matthew 5:4, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" (MEV).
This third choice is a critical choice, because the next five really build on whether you make a commitment to this or not. That's why we call it the commitment choice. Jesus said in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth" (MEV). And to be meek means to consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ's care and control.
The fourth choice is called the housecleaning choice. We make this choice when we say, "I openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust." Jesus said in this beatitude, in Matthew 5:8, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God" (MEV). And being pure in heart means getting what's on the inside of me on the outside of me.
The fifth choice is the transformation choice, in which I voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects. It's based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled." When I make this choice, I'm deciding that I want to allow God to replace my hurts, habits and hang-ups with a whole new life.
The sixth choice is the relationship choice. Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, 9, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy... Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God" (MEV). This is where I evaluate all of my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm that I have done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.
The seventh choice is the growth choice. I start to grow and get spiritually healthy and develop maturity when I reserve a daily time with God for Bible reading, self-examination, and prayer in order to know God and his will for my life and to gain the power to follow his will.
And the eighth and final choice is the sharing choice, when I turn outwardly and help others to take these same steps. It's part of being a peacemaker, and it's really the great result of having started walking through recovery. Nothing is more contagious than the life-changing power of the gospel.
Long before there was a recovery or addiction program, Jesus used one of his greatest sermons to lay the foundation for our healing from every hurt, habit and hang-up!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, one of America's largest and most influential churches. Pastor Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.
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