Have you ever heard people say things like, “Two steps forward and one step back?” Perhaps, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another?” What about, “God must be punishing me for something I did?” God is not doing the punishing as some might believe. Sure, God does discipline those He loves, but that is so they don’t face the punishment or wrath to come (see Hebrews 12:4-11). No, it is not God; in some cases, it is actually them punishing themselves. It’s called self-sabotage. It’s a place where people sabotage relationships, finances, personal health and so on. Just as things begin to go well, something happens to set them back. They’re always waiting for the proverbial “other shoe to drop.” And that’s part of the problem: it is exactly what they expect. Generally speaking, people tend to do or say things that correspond to expectations. It’s like self-fulfilling prophecy in which they set themselves up for the fall. This process should have no part in a disciple of Jesus Christ; nonetheless, there are some believers who find themselves in this boat. Why?
For some, they may believe God loves them; but they don’t believe the love by which He loves them. His love is unlike any others, so it is difficult for them to grasp a love that isn’t based on merit. 1 John 4:16 We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. Please by all means read all of chapter four, it lays a foundation for what’s ahead. Think very carefully about this verse: For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:15). Think about the concept of adoption. It is very intentional. It means the parents desired the child so much, they adopted him or her as their own. We couldn’t choose our natural parents. Unfortunately, some have been raised to believe they were “an accident,” even though there is no such thing, since God knew everyone before the world even began. He loves them and has purpose for everyone. Here’s something very interesting to consider: God does give people a choice in terms of His adopting them as His children. Yet we read: But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13). As Jesus put it: “You did not choose Me but I chose you” (John 15:16). Why is all this so important to know and embrace? For one, those who don’t find any value in themselves, tend to not treat themselves very well. While they would like the blessings of God; they can’t see themselves receiving them. It goes against their view of themselves. Furthermore, many take on an attitude of rejection. They expect rejection and look for it. They find it very difficult to receive love and affection. It does not compute.
As long as people expect to fail, they will do things to make themselves fail. As long as they fail to see the goodness of God, they will fail to fully receive the good things He has for them. They will maintain a constant cycle of two steps forward; one step back. This cycle does not glorify God. It is time for them to make the decision to believe Him. One of the reasons people “never have time” to read their Bible is simply they don’t make time. People have the time for what’s important. For some, it is important to hold on to their flawed belief system about God, so they will not open the Bible and read it. It contradicts that belief system. It changes the way people think when they take an honest approach to reading it. Any excuse will work. You know, “I can’t understand it, so what’s the use?” Here’s the irony, the Bible is a relational book; it is not a textbook to be studied as you would a schoolbook. It requires relationship with God to understand it. When people think differently, they speak and act differently. People make mistakes, and setbacks may come from time to time. That’s life. We’re not home yet. With God in our lives, mistakes and setbacks become building blocks and stepping stones. We learn, we heal and we move forward. However, we don’t intentionally set up ourselves for failure because we want to disprove God’s goodness and His love for us.
Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.