Emphasis – special importance, value, or prominence given to something. (Bing Dictionary)
Growing up my parents put an emphasis on hard work, whether it was school or employment. It is so hard to get out of a works mentality when it has been emphasized most of your life. We never talked about how you were feeling, or what you were thinking, it was always about what you were doing. It didn’t matter that how you think about things impacts how you feel, and leads to actions. The emphasis was only on the work. The problem with that mentality is that you learn to put on an act and do what is expected of you.
So when I initially started stepping out, I would see something that needed to be done, a need that needed to be met and I would do it. I didn’t have to think about it or see how I feel about it, I didn’t even have to ask. I just did. I realize there is a place for that, there are times that things just need to get done.
However, after a while I realized I was spending so much time on doing, that I was not seeking the One who I thought I was serving. I was not asking for His guidance or direction. I was too busy serving that I didn’t even have time to spend with Him. I was on the auto pilot that I learned as a child. It was about me showing God, and the world around me what I could do.
When He finally got my attention, I learned God doesn’t put an emphasis on works. His emphasis is on His grace. I started to put the emphasis on my relationship with Him. I realized that there is a reason the Word says “Seek first the Kingdom of God.” The more I learn of His character, the more He started to show me where I was working to earn something He had already given.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
I would have never said I was trying to earn His love, but the works mentality was deeply engrained in me. Learning to live in God’s grace and rest in His love, was a new experience for me. It was not easy to let go of works, and for a while I felt like I had to completely stop all works and just allow God’s love and grace to minister to me.
Once I was able to realize God’s grace is what saved me and that there was nothing that I could do to earn His love, I could go back to serving. I realized, I had to learn to take the emphasis off myself. I had to realize my deeds were not to draw attention to myself, but were suppose to be to point others to Christ.
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4
There are times that I am so passionate about certain things, that I can not help but share. I am learning that passion is God given to raise awareness of things that the world has turned a blind eye to, it is not about me. I still struggle now when God asks me to step out in an area where I question “Am I trying to be seen?” because I want to guard my heart against it being about me.
A wise friend has encouraged me to step out anyway. She says the world needs the perspective that God has given me. She reminded me that the enemy will never ask me to do anything that will put the emphasis on God. I try to keep that in mind in those moments where I want to question stepping out. I am still a work in progress, but I am learning that my emphasis has to be on sharing who Christ is and all that he has done with those that He allows me to share with.
The other thing that God has shown me in this journey, is learning that just because I can do something does not mean I should do it. His emphasis is on growing His children into maturity, with fruit that remains and gifts that edify the body. There are things that I can do, and then there are things that God has called me to do that I should do. When I busy my life with so many things just because I can do them, I am not giving my time to the things that I should be doing. Those things that He is calling me to, that cause me to step out of my comfort zone, but will grow the gifts in me that I will need for the next assignment. I am also robbing the person that should be doing it of that opportunity to grow their gifts.
We will grow where we put our emphasis. Our emphasis needs to be on our relationship with God first and foremost. When we are doing things for the Kingdom of God they should put emphasis on Christ, who He is and all that He has done, and not bring glory to ourselves. There are times when we need to just fill in and help, but we need to make sure that our time is being focused on what Christ is asking of us, not just using all our time where we feel comfortable serving. God wants us to grow in Him, and growth is rarely comfortable, we have to step out and serve as He is asking us to.
This post is part of a 28 days series on Stepping Out inspired by the #Write28Days Blogging Challenge by Anita Ojeda.