Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part V – Overcoming Anxiety Through Perspective

The only thing you sometimes have control over is perspective. You don’t have control over your situation. But you have a choice over how you view it – Chris Pine

Perspective is everything when you are facing the challenges of life – Joni Eareckson Tada

I once designed an experiment with my friends that involved a half filled cup of water. My objective to see to see how many people would consider the cup half full and how many would consider it half empty.

So I decided to split my friends into two groups of four – a blue group and a green group. Next, I set up meetings with each person in the two groups over the course of a month.

When meeting with those in the blue group, I kept the cup empty at the start of our meeting and then filled up the cup five minutes before I had to leave and then asked if they considered the cup half full or half-empty.

With the green group, I kept the cup full at the start of our meeting. Then I drank half the water in the cup five minutes before leaving, and asked if they considered the cup half full or half-empty.

The result: 3 out of 4 people in the blue group considered the cup half full. 3 out of 4 people in the green group considered the cup half empty.

When I asked the people in the blue group why they saw the cup as half full, they said the cup was previously empty and now it was half full. When I asked the people in the green group why they saw the cup as half empty, they said the cup was previously full and now it wasn’t. It seemed both the blue and green group looked at the current state of the cup through the lens of the previous state of the cup.

Like those in the blue and green group, our perspective of our current state is highly dependent on our previous experience.

For example, a girl who has only ever slept on a memory foam mattress may see having to downgrade to a spring mattress as a shocker and so experience a measure of anxiety over the situation. This is like going from the glass being half full to half empty.

On the other hand, a girl who has only ever slept on a thin mat may see going to a spring mattress as fantastic development and so experience a measure of happiness. This is like going from the glass being empty to being half full.

The key to developing a well rounded perspective is to subject ourselves to a myriad of experiences that range from the cup being empty to the cup being full

If you have only had full cup experiences, you should design a controlled experiment where you see an empty cup.

Many times, we get depressed when things are not the way we think or expect them to be. What perspective does is change the way we think or expect them to be. The more variety we experience, the more well-rounded our perspective. The more well-rounded our perspective, the less likely we are to be anxious or depressed over a particular situation.

Our experiences change our perspective and our perspective change our expectations 

So give yourself the gift of perspective today. Go down to the homeless shelter. Listen to the story of a person whose life has been ravaged by drugs. Watch the story of a single who went from rags to riches.

You must do these things for it to really sink in. Knowing that there are people out that have it worse than you won’t be as effective.

Know that it will not always be the way it is today.

Things do and will change.

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part IV – Overcoming Anxiety through Prevention

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first three installments of the series: Part I – Root cause of depression & Part II – What anxiety does to the heart & Part III – Root cause of anxiety

Overcoming Anxiety

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, but a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25

We can overcome depression by employing strategies that are implicit in the same foundational scripture that forms the bedrock of this series: (1) Stopping anxiety from getting into our hearts (2) Expelling the anxiety that enters our heart before it has a chance to morph into depression.

To effectively overcome depression, both strategies much be employed. While learning how to prevent anxiety from travelling from your mind into your heart is the preferred strategy, no one on this earth will be 100% effective at executing this strategy. Therefore, it is equally as important to learn how to extricate anxiety form your heart.

Stopping Anxiety From Getting Into Your Heart

To stop anxiety from getting into your heart, you have to guard your heart. The bible puts it this way: Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life (Proverbs 4:23). The best way to guard your heart can be found in the following scripture:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds – Philippians 4:6-7

Point A: The peace of God guards our hearts as we humbly submit everything to God.

Whatever we do not submit to God, we take responsibility for, and we try to exercise control over. While taking responsibility is generally a good thing, there are many things we cannot and should not try to control. These include things such as what others will do, and what will happen in the future. It is only when we get rid of our illusion of control will we become humble enough to submit our situation into the hands of a supreme being.

Point B: Prayer is the bedrock of humility. It diverts anxiety from travelling into our heart and into the hands of God.

Prayer says “I can’t do it by myself, God I need you”. Hence, prayer is the language of humility. This does not mean that your situation will change immediately, if at all. What it does do is prevent your heart from being infected with anxiety.

Unfortunately, we often think of prayer as the last resort in our lives. Have you ever heard, “there is nothing more to do now but pray”. Have you said it yourself? This is an attitude that speaks to our tendency to want to feel a sense of control. While this may be good for our ego’s, it does nothing to relieve us of stress and anxiety.

Whatever you think you should have control over is what you will stress over or have anxiety over.

For peace of mind, prayer should be your first resort and not your last resort. Therefore, pray more and pray often. Let go of control and watch peace flood your heart.

In the next blog, I will address how to overcome anxiety through perspective.

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part III – Root Cause of Anxiety

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it a few months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.
Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. Click on the following links for the first two installments of the series: Part I & Part II

Root Causes of Anxiety

UNBELIEF: The Greek word for unbelief can be translated as faithlessness. Faithlessness means “Lack of trust” or “No trust”. Where there is no trust, there is a lack of security or insecurity. Now, the thing about insecurity is that it does not like itself…(Selah)…but it is always looking for security. To make itself secure, insecurity will put up walls, try to control every situation, and act in its own self-interest to protect itself.

Put another way, unbelief in the heart of a person leads to insecurity, which may then leads to self-loathing, a controlling spirit, loneliness of heart (due to putting walls up), being critical of oneself, acting selfishly, and not being able to truly connect with others. These things are interconnected and form a vicious cycle that repeat itself time and again – it is the repetition of this cycle that lead to depression (heaviness of the heart) as there seems to be no way out.

FEAR: Biblically, the opposite of fear is love (see 1 John 4:18). Our hearts cannot live in a vacuum. It is either going to be filled with love or it is going to be filled with fear. In fact, it can be said that the absence of love is the presence of fear.

The love that I speak of is not the eros (romantic love), sterego (love between friends), or phileo (brotherly love). The love that I speak of is agape love. This type of love is committed and sacrificial. It is the type of love that is given based on the heart of the giver and not the performance of the givee.  This is the love that makes one feel accepted and gives one a sense of identity.

When those that mean the most to us do not model agape love to us, it creates a void or wound in our hearts. This void or wound tells us that we are not worthy, causes us to try to measure up to a standard that the world throws our way to feel worthy, and causes heaviness of the heart whenever we cannot fill that void with our performance. Depression occurs when we feel rejected…selah…or when whatever gives us a sense of identity is removed.

IGNORANCE: I have heard it said before that ignorance is bliss. I beg to differ. There is nothing bliss about ignorance, for what you don’t know can kill one. The only people that say ignorance is bliss are those that do not know how to respond properly to the knowledge they have acquired.

The problem with ignorance is that it makes us powerless. Being powerless to effect any change, we become slaves to the whims and whams of life. We are tossed to and fro by every way of emotion and become a bit of a piñata. Perhaps the biggest folly of ignorance is that it makes us highly susceptible to believing the lies we tell ourselves, lies others tells us, lies our experiences teach us, and the lies that the devil tells us. These lies themselves can become the root of the fear and insecurity that we exist within.

Conversely, knowledge of the truth will lead to faith, which then shapes the thinking of our heart. This is turn shapes our emotions, action, and results.

The last statement begins the journey into how anxiety may be conquered. Please stand by for the next installment – Overcoming Anxiety

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part II – What Anxiety Does to the Heart

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Note: I encourage you to read the earlier posts associated with this series to give yourself the best opportunity to get the most out of this topic. For Part I, click here

What Anxiety Does to the Heart

As he thinks in his heart, so is he – Proverbs 23:7

There is a what we think in our mind, then there is what we think in our heart. What we think in our heart is deeper and has a long lasting effect. According to the bible, what we think in our heart is the determining factor on who we become, and by extension, I will add sets the course of our lives.

Point A: The thoughts of our heart holds the power to control the trajectory of our life.

There is no solving the depression issue without solving the heart issue. When anxiety enters the heart, it causes “dis-ease” or “lack of ease” in the heart such that the thoughts of our hearts (what we hold to be true in the depths of our being) begins to stoop (bow down, pay homage, or otherwise worships) to anything else other than the truth.

Point B: Depression is not a disease (dis-ease) of the mind, but it is a disease of the heart. Hence it is less about what you think is true in your mind, but more about what you believe to be the truth in your heart.

Please read the next sections very carefully and re-read as often as needed until you truly understand:

What is true is different than what is truth! A truth is a fact that NEVER  changes regardless of situation, circumstance, or how much time has elapsed. Something that is true on the hand is a fact, but that fact can change with time, circumstance, or situation. Another way of differentiating between true and truth is this: What is true is temporary but what is truth is permanent.

In our inner ideal world, truths become laws or principles that form the bedrock of our beliefs, shape our identity, and mold the way we see our world. Note that from a biblical point of view, since God holds all truth, only He should be able determine our truths.

Unfortunately, there are those times when our inner world becomes less than ideal. It is in these moment that anxiety can kick in and then things other than the truth begin to shape our belief, identity, and the way we see our / the world.

Point C: Anxiety in the heart turns an unpleasant temporary fact into our truth.

Once an unpleasant temporary fact turns into our truth in our hearts, our heart begins to interpret the present through the lens of the past unpleasant fact, thereby mortgaging our futures. Another way to say the same thing is this:  Anxiety in our heart causes us to get stuck in a moment / temporary experience, and then interprets all future possibilities through the lens of that past moment / temporary experience. This is why changing environment has little lasting impact on depression sufferers although it may offer temporary respite.

Note: In the above paragraph, there is a difference between the truth and our truth

Worse still, anxiety in our hearts keep us in an infinite loop where our unpleasant past experience causes us to have unpleasant present experiences, which we then remember in the future as unpleasant past experiences.

If you can relate to this, then it is very possible that there is some life experience, statement, situation, or condition that may or may not be true (factual) that you have taken to be truth (the truth for you being something you deeply believe that in your heart you truly think will never change).

Point D: We should not let what is true explain the truth, but we should let the truth explain what is true.Ask yourself these questions – What do I truly believe in my heart? When did I start to believe it? Is what I believe in my heart truly permanent or it is temporary? Are my believes in line with the truth?

It is possible that you anxiety exists where your truth is a lie and not the truth – when we believe a lie, we live a lie. And that lie can steal our joy. It is only the truth that will set us free.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – The Root Cause of Anxiety

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Winning the Battle Over Depression – Part I – Root Cause Of Depression

This series comes as a result of a friend who battles with depression asking that I write something on the topic that may help her. I promised her that I would do it about two months ago. This series looks at depression from a biblical perspective. I hope it helps anyone struggling with depression in some way.

Root Cause of Depression

Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad

– Proverbs 12:25 (NKJV)

 The wisest man (outside of Jesus) that ever lived reveals to us that the root cause of depression is anxiety!

But before we go further into this topic, it is important to note a few things:

  • The original Hebrew text reads something like this ‘Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop’.
  • The meaning of ‘heaviness’ is sorrow, anxiety, and fear.
  • The meaning of ‘stoop’ is to bow down, pay homage, or worship

Another thing we must note is this: The passage says ‘anxiety in the heart of man”. It does NOT say “anxiety in the soul of man”.

That is to say that to feel anxiety or sorrow in our soul is part of the human experience – there is nothing wrong with you if your soul experiences episodes of anxiety from time to time. This is normal, for there are situations and conditions that can bring on the onset of anxiety.

Point A: You are not abnormal or broken because you experiences episodes of anxiety

If you think you are abnormal or broken because you experience episodes of anxiety, consider that what you are saying is that you want to do better than the most perfect man that ever lived, Jesus, for even he experienced anxiety. Consider the following scriptures:

Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch” – Mark 14:23

Do you see that? Even Jesus was sorrowful in his soul when he faced a very difficult situation. But this is not the only time that Jesus was troubled! The bible tells us that Jesus was also troubled and wept when others were sorrowful for the death of Lazarus (see John 11).

Point B: It is okay to tell others that you are suffering from anxiety and to ask for help

The scripture in Mark 14:23 tells us that Jesus told his disciples that he was exceedingly sorrowful. He did not hide when he was going through his deep bout of anxiety but told those whom he trusted in his inner circle. Then he further asked them to help. Specifically, he asked them to stay and pray for him.

With those two points behind us, it is important to say that the type of anxiety that causes depression is the anxiety that enters into our heart. Why is that important? It is because the heart is what ultimately drives our actions through our mind.

Point C: We do not always do what is in our mind, but we always do something when that something has alignment in both our heart and our mind. Hence, anxiety is deadly when it enters our heart for it ultimately controls our behavior.

Next Time We Will Discuss The Topic – What Anxiety Does To Your Heart!

 

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From Slavery to Freedom – How Wisdom Overcame Foolishness

Introduction: In Old Testament times, some cultures held the practice that should a person who owed another person a debt have no financial means to pay, he or she could sell or herself into the service of his creditor to work off the debt owed.
In this arrangement, a bond between both parties would be made, such as ‘work for me for these many years or make for me these may baskets to pay off the debt you owe me’. In this arrangement, the person was ‘bonded’ by law to the creditor and so became a ‘bond-servant’.
Moreover, at times the written bond agreement was placed at the entrance of the person’s habitation to remind him and everyone else that he was in a debt bond. Indeed, such a person was in ‘bond-age’, because he/she was not free to go as he/she pleased.
Consider: Imagine walking up to the house of a person and seeing a bond statement. Imagine that out of curiosity, you reach for it and discover the following: The man sold himself into bondage though he owed no debt to his creditor when he first sold himself. And because he sold himself of his own freewill for nothing, and his now master agreed to the surrender of his freedom and freewill for bondage, no sum of money or work could redeem him, for indeed, there was nothing to pay.
Seeing this, I bet you’d be somewhat dumbfounded. You’d wonder whatever possessed the man to do such a thing – sell himself voluntarily into bondage for nothing. You might also feel sorry for the man!
How one moment of temporary insanity and foolishness can lead to a lifetime of bandage.
The interesting thing is this: You and I are the ones that sold ourselves into bondage for absolutely nothing (this is what plays out in the story of Adam and Eve for they owed the devil absolutely nothing). God saw what we did and took pity on us. Knowing the only thing the slave master (Satan) would settle for to let us go was the utter control of God’s kingdom and domain, God immediately formulated a plan.
Story of Wisdom: So how did God overcome our foolishness? He overcome it with Wisdom. Since the scripture tells us that Jesus is wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30-31), we see that God combatted our foolishness with Jesus (wisdom). Jesus came and substituted himself for us of his own free will so that we could regain our freedom. Here is how he did it.
He started by writing a new bond agreement that allowed himself to be a substitute for the man in bondage. Then he knocked on the house (heart) of the bondservant and said: Lets make an exchange; lets make a binding perpetual accord – your freedom for my bondage. I will take your place under the same bond that you agreed with your current master. Dumbfounded by Jesus’s love, the man accepted and was immediately set free, and Jesus took his place. Jesus then took the parchment that contained the man’s bond agreement and folded it into two, signifying the debt of the man is now invalid, and kept the agreement between him and the man with him.
Next day as the creditor comes, he sees Jesus instead of the old bondservant. The creditor asks Jesus what happened, and Jesus explains that he has taken the place of the man. Glad that he has a bondservant, the creditor asks Jesus to get to work. Then Jesus asks the question, why? The creditor replies that because he has taken the bondservant’s position. To this answer, Jesus asks said, what is his debt so that I may begin to pay it? When the creditor replied, well he has no debt, Jesus simply said, well consider his non-debt paid, and simply walks out!
The creditor knew he had been outmaneuvered. While he could have argued that debt of the bond-servant was his freewill promise to him, he could not argue that Jesus owed him a debt for He had not made any such promises or agreement with him. Furthermore, since Jesus was substitute for the old-bondservant, he could now no longer go and get the man back.
Upset, the creditor quickly tried to see if he could convince the old bondservant to tear up his agreement with Jesus. When he found the old bondservant, he simply laughed at the creditor and said ‘why would I fall for your trap again! And besides, even if I wanted to tear up that agreement, I can’t because a condition of our agreement was that only He could tear it up. You will have to find Him and convince Him. Moreover, our agreement supersedes my agreement with you. Therefore, if something ever possesses me to work for you again, I can walk out freely when I come to my senses. You can no longer hold me against my will’

Point to Ponder: Anyone suffering in bondage is wise to consider accepting Jesus’ proposal for freedom and sign up.

Bible Verse: You have sold yourselves for nothing, and you shall be redeemed without money – Isaiah 52:3 NKJV.

Disclaimer: This story is not meant to fully and accurately depict how Jesus won liberty for us. He did it through the shedding of His blood.

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Final Act

God set out His will for mankind the moment He created them (male and female). His will for all of us can be found in Genesis 1:28:

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

In the previous posts, we examined what it means to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it, in Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, respectively.

The fifth will of God for our life is to have dominion. To have dominion means to rule or reign. Hence, we see that God wants us to reign in life. And though our reign was cut short when sin entered the world, we have been given another chance to reign through the finished work of Christ. Here is how Apostle Paul puts it:

  For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ – Romans 5:17

Going back to Genesis 1:28, we see that God never intended for man to reign over man. He (God) is meant to reign over man, and we are meant to reign over our environment. Hence, stepping over each other to make it to the top is not God’s will. It is a result of the fall of man!

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: Man was made to rule over his environment, and not for his environment to rule over him.

That we are made to rule over our environment means that we do NOT have to be a product of our environment. It means we do not have to surrender fatalistically to our past, our upbringing, our culture, our experiences and relationships, or current popular fads. We do not have to conform to what our environment throws at us.

God has placed within us (through the Spirit) the ability to rule over all our situations, circumstance, and environment. Hence, to surrender to outwards things is only possible when we forget the truth that we are meant to reign in this life.

304px-light_bulb_icon_tips-svgLight-bulb moment: The inner being was created to reign over the outward things

This being the case, we should not focus so much of our attention on outwards things. Since whatever we focus on the most is what we give power over to control us (our thoughts, our emotions, and actions), it is best to focus internally – on the Spirit of God’s words and direction. Only then will we be able to fulfill God’s purpose of reigning over our situations, circumstances, and environment.

Such people who are able to focus internally may be marveled upon for they seem to live in a parallel universe to those who are freaking out over the situation at hand. As believers, we should not be one of those who marvel.

Food for Thought: When I focus on who I am through whom has been deposited inside of me (the Spirit of God), I am able to live my purpose of reigning in life outwardly.

 

 

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part IV

God’s fourth purpose for our lives is to subdue the earth.

27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Note: If you are just stumbling upon this post, you may read the earlier posts associated with this series here: Part I, Part II, Part III

What it means to subdue

To subdue – in the form that it is used here in the bible – means to bring under the subjection of one’s will. As early as this is in the post, the point must be made that God said to ‘subdue it’. He did not say to ‘subdue him’ or ‘subdue her’. By this we see that God never intentioned for man to subdue another man. Hence, such things such as lording it over a woman, or abject slavery, was never in the will of God for mankind.

How we can subdue the earth

When God created the earth, he created some natural laws that go along with it. For us to bring the earth under the subjection of our will, we must understand what those laws are, so that we may use act in congruence to those laws to do our bidding.

This is where science comes into play. Science is simply the study of what God created so that we may use what we have learned to bring the natural things of the earth under our will (to the intent that our will reflects His will). This process is not new but has continued since before the time of the caveman to this very moment.

Why is it that the application of science and technology has been accelerated over the past 200 years compared to the previous era? It is in no small part due to the fact that mankind started to become fruitful and multiply. In other words, it is much easier to focus on innovation and progress when basic needs are met.

What does God’s command for us to subdue the earth mean for us today? It means that God wants us to educate ourselves about our surroundings so that we may use the knowledge gleaned to innovate and make progress. Why does he want us to educate ourselves and learn? The answer is simple: If we do not learn of the laws He has set in place, we will not be able to bring the earth under subjection to our will.

As a simple example, consider farming. If a farmer does not learn to give his land a break to replenish itself and plant different crops, he will find that the land will not respond to his will of producing crops year in year out. He will have to move on to another land or go hungry.

Implications of not learning to subdue

When it comes to subduing the earth, ignorance is not bliss whatsoever. In fact, consider what the wisest person to ever live (outside of Jesus) says:

The labor of fools wearies them, for they do not even know how to go to the city! – Ecclesiastes 10:15 (NKJV)

That’s not good is it? To toil and toil without any fruitful result because of lack of knowledge is awful. Hence, the lesson here is that we should not neglect our education (not necessarily talking of college or university here). Any area we fail to learn – be it relationships, finances, culturally etc. – is the area where we become wearied.

Point to Ponder: A place where knowledge and learning is absent is a place that does not experience God’s best – both individually and collectively.

Moreover, a place where knowledge is absent is likely a place where poverty is present. It is place where unrest and strife are not far behind.

Point to Ponder: To love God does not mean that we do not feed our minds and learn as much as we can.

Consider that Jesus, though being very mindful of spiritual things was not bereft of earthly knowledge. Outside of carpentry, he seemed to know how fishing worked, how farming worked, and how to handle new and old wine (just to name a few). And he used this to bridge the gap between the knowledge of heavenly principles and earthly principles.

I have seen too many people who love God suffer needlessly because they did not understand what subdue the earth entailed – they did not understand that knowledge was its pre-requisite. They say, “I love God but I am not inheriting the promises of God”. Well, God says if we love him, then we obey his commandments. One of his very first commandments is to subdue the earth…I will say no more.

Last Thought

Passion for God is not in opposition to having a passion to learn about our surroundings and how it works. To be religious (in the context used here) does not mean we have to abhor science and learning. Science and religion should not be enemies but should compliment each other.

There are groups out there who think that knowledge should be forbidden! They are wrong for this is not the will of the God.

Most of the time, the people who want to subdue knowledge are themselves knowledgeable. So why forbid knowledge? It is likely because they do not just want to subdue the earth, they also want to subdue and control the people within it. They do not want to inherit riches through knowledge; they want to steal it through manipulation.

Still to come: Last installment of this series. The topic will be dominion

 

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part III

Having seen that God’s first purpose for us is to be fruitful (see Part I)  and His second purpose is for us to multiply (see Part II), we can now move onto the third purpose as given to us in Genesis 1:27-28

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

God’s third purpose for our lives is this: Fill the earth!

If we say that to fill the earth simply means to spread across the face of the earth, we would not be incorrect, but our statement would be incomplete without speaking of the purpose for which God gave the commandment.

Here is what God wants to accomplish through us when we fill the earth.

(I) Make Poverty History

Consider the following passage of scripture:

For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ – Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV)

The last three words of the scripture read ‘in your land’. If the children of God do not spread across the earth, then there will be lands that do not qualify as our land. (Note: I say our land for all the things that belong to God belong to us as heirs by birthright). But God wants us to fill the earth so that all land can be said to be ‘our land’ – the place we dwell.

If we follow Genesis 1:27-28 carefully, we see that God gave the command to fill the earth to all those who belong to him, whom he first has blessed, who have become fruitful, and who are engaged in multiplication. Why? It is because these are the people  that can fulfil the command to open their hands to their brother, and the poor and needy in the land for they have something to give them.

By this we can say:

  • God never asks us to do something without equipping us with the ability to do it.
  • God blesses so that we may be a blessing to others

The question is will we actually fulfil His command or will we continue to make all sorts of excuses to justify why we continue to neglect the poor and the needy in our land when we have the ability. This is what I call giving a man a fish.

(II) To Expand the Kingdom

Consider this very famous passage of scripture:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you [b]always, even to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28: 19-20 (NASB)

It says to make disciples of every nation on earth – not just some nations but every nation. Note though that it says make disciples. It does not say make bondservants, pillage, subjugate, and force people, as some did in the name of following this Great Commission.

So why fill the earth? So that others may come to know God. That they may themselves become fruitful and multiply and obey the commands of God.  This is what I call teaching a man how to fish.

If we took this command seriously, I wonder how different our world would look.

(III) To Avoid Unnecessary Strife

Remember what happened to Abraham and Lot when God blessed them and they began to be fruitful and multiply. At some point their shepherds started to argue and contend with each other because the land could not contain both Abraham and Lot’s flocks.

By the way, I consider this a good problem. It would be great for everyone to be so blessed that we have to spread out to fill the earth!

See, when we do not spread out as we get blessed, we find that the following occurs:

  • We start to compete for the same resources instead of communing with each other
  • We do not increase as much as God would like for we can only grow so much in limited space with limited resources
  • We start argue and quarrel about things the rest of the world considers trivial – consider what people in surrounding lands must have thought of Abraham and lot having issues because they were too blessed. This is what we could call First World Problems (see YouTube video).

This is what I call not running out of fish

Conclusion

Consider how our world would be different if we followed the command to fill the earth to fulfill the purpose of putting an end to poverty, expanding the kingdom of God, and avoiding unnecessary strife.

Point to Ponder: By following the command to full the earth, we help ourselves as much as we help others.

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What is Gods Purpose For My Life? Part II

Many people have the question “What does God want me to do with my life?” In Part I of this series, we saw that the answer to this question is not a mystery but is clearly revealed in scripture. In Genesis 1:27-28, we saw that right after God made man in His image and blessed them, He told them what they were to do (see the verse below)

27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

While we focused on the process of being fruitful in in Part I, in the section, the focus is going to be on the second purpose for our lives – to multiply.

Here is a quick thing to know when it comes to multiplying

(1) Multiplication is reserved for those who are fruitful: God says that we should be “fruitful and multiply”. He does NOT say “multiply and be fruitful”. Why? It is because the word for multiply is the Hebrew word ‘rabah’, which means to make much,  or increase greatly. To explain, consider the seed that grows to become a tree. That tree when it produces fruit has a seed within it. But the tree does not have just one fruit on it but many fruits with the same seed. By this, the seed has effectively multiplied itself through its fruitfulness. Thus, the only way the seed will multiply is to be fruitful.

A heart set on multiplication is a heart that is first set on fruitfulness.

(2) Multiplication is others-focused: If being fruitful is about self-growth and becoming who we are designed to be, to multiply is about reproducing who we have become. If fruitfulness is internally focused, we see that multiplication is externally focused. If fruitfulness is about changing ourselves, the multiplication is about changing others.

Jesus practiced this command of multiplication when he gave up his own life so that he could win the right for others to receive what He had within Him – the Holy Spirit. In other words, He put our lives before His own life so that we could experience the fruit of His life.

A heart set on multiplication is a heart that is others-focused, service oriented, and desires to add value to people’s lives.

Here are four characteristics of a person who (like a seed) desires to multiply (increase greatly)

(A) Giver: Jesus tells us that when we give, it shall given unto us (Luke 6:38). Moreover, Jesus tells us that the heart behind giving should always be love (see John 3:16 which says that for God so loved the word that He gave).

Hence we see that the principle here is this: Love always gives, and giving always causes multiplication.

Hence, to follow Gods purpose of our life to multiply requires that we have to give of our time, resources, and energy to those thing that will add value to others.

Point to Ponder: God has given me specific gifts, talents, and abilities to multiply to others so they may eat of the fruit of my life.

Today is the day to think about what you have been given and how you can use that to make a difference in your world.

(B) Influencer: Leadership is influence. To be an influencer requires that we have a heart to seek people and lead them out of situations. We can see this in the final command that Jesus gives us saying “Go and make disciples of all the nations…”. What he was saying there was for us to go and  influence our world so that we may multiply those who are going to be in the kingdom of God. Why? So that their lives may be positively impacted. It’s a beautiful thing when fruitfulness is multiplied. It makes the barren world of our lives a thriving place.

Check out this verse:

Until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness be a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest – Isaiah 32:15 NKJV

Indeed, we who have accepted Jesus have had the Spirit poured out on us. As the wilderness of our lives become a fruitful field, the fruitful field will be counted as a forest as we influence the lives of others. 

Point to Ponder: Everyone influences in one way or the other. A multiplier always asks the question – how can I influence my world in a better way?

(C) Filler: As the plant multiplies, it fills the barren land and thus enriches and strengthens the soil it is planted in so that the soil is no longer as vulnerable to erosion and is good to provide fruit. Similarly, we have been planted in the lives of others to help meet a need or fill a need in their lives so that they may become strengthened and become better equipped to produce fruit.

Practically, this means that we have to move beyond surface level friendships and get to know people on a deeper level. Then we are to see how we are equipped to fill a need in their lives so that they may be galvanized to become all that God has called them to become.

Question to Ponder: What gap exists in the life of those around me and how can I fill that need?

(D) Teacher: Jesus is called a teacher in the bible. What did he teach? He taught about the kingdom of God – how to enter, how it operates, and its benefits. Then Jesus gave the command for us to go teach (Matthew 28:20).

In other words, we are not just meant to be givers, influencers, and fillers. We are meant to teach others to be the same. we are not just meant to provide aid to people, we are meant to teach them how to be self-sufficient (by being rooted and grounded in love).

Another way to say this is that our purpose is to make others self-sufficient in Christ so that they may impact their world. Our job is not to make others self-dependent, nor to make others dependent, but to make them God-dependent

Point to Ponder: I am called to be a flowing river and not a static pond. Though I am not perfect, I am called to teach others the good that I know.

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So we see, that God wants us to be a Giver, Influence, Filler, and Teacher. He wants us to be a G.I.F.T in other people’s lives. When we choose to be a gift, we find that we receive more than we every gave.

Food for Thought: Happiness and fulfilment in life comes naturally when we choose to become a G.I.F.T in other people’s lives.

In Part III, we will look at filling the earth and subduing it.

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