Image by Thomas Allsop
Image by Thomas Allsop

Healing and Growth for Healthy, Godly Living (Philippians 3:12-14)

Updated: Jul 22, 2021

Philippians 3:12-14 (ESV) says: "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

Once we are are saved when we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior of our lives and repent from our sins, the journey is just beginning. We should be running the race, taking on the journey of growing in Christ daily. We need to put in the work, and it is not easy but it is definitely well-worth it. What does putting the work in look like? Intentional actions and choice to not be complacent. Complacency is the worst place to be in because it is the place where growth dies. It is a choice we have to make daily to put in the work. However, once you consistently dedicate yourself to a be a life-long learner with a growth mindset in Christ, this will affect all areas and relationships in your life.

1. Know What Scripture Says

This may seem like a given when it comes to running the race and growing in Christ, but if this was so obvious, we wouldn't be living in a society countering God's Word. It is not enough to rely on a preacher to tell you what the Bible says; it may be a false interpretation. We have to take intentional steps to read God's word in full context, not cherry picking or fitting it to our personal narrative. God's Word is living and timeless, applying in all ages in all societies. When we read Scripture for what it is, we will find who God is, what the Gospel is, and how to live our lives. There are some gray areas, but issues addressing right and wrong are very clear cut. Truth is concrete. It is important to know this for yourself, so you can live accordingly and not be deceived and so you can grow closer to our Lord.

2. Find Your Worth in Christ

Here's the truth: Christ is what makes you worthy. Nothing in this world is guaranteed or stable, so it is pointless to put your identity or happiness in that. I mean, our society puts value of a human and relationship level down to likes and follows. Do you really want to measure someone's view of you or your value with a like? Further, we all fall short as sinners (Romans 3:23), so we are going to make mistakes and are not enough. You don't need to be perfect or carry the world on your back. Christ's blood paid the wages of our sin for all who believe and repent, and that is something no one can take away from you once you are redeemed. God is sovereign, and we must take the load off our backs and surrender our lives to the Lord. He is intentional with our lives, and He never has us go through something for nothing. Make the choice to have faith and trust that He will carry and take care of you. All you have to do is just show up and do your best, and God will take care of the rest.

3. Repent and Make Choices to Avoid Temptation

As I mentioned, we all fall short and sin. We all fall into temptation, and can let our flesh take over. When this happens, we have to repent, meaning "turn away." Thus, we must always be feeding our spirit over our flesh. Whichever one you feed more will be stronger. How we can starve the flesh is by denying ourselves by serving others, avoiding temptations, spending time with the Lord, and praying. We have to be honest with ourselves when it comes to sin. Jesus touches a lot on cutting off anything that causes you to sin (Matthew 5:30). If you struggle with sexual sin, the best thing to do is to avoid inappropriate media and seek accountability and guidance from someone you trust. It is worth taking the extra steps and not compromising with temptation. Sin separates us and is rebelling against God, and we don't want to take the gift of grace from the cross for granted. Also, practically speaking, sin affects all areas of our lives. Sins harms us, which is why God calls us not to cave into temptation, and He always promises a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13). Sin will eat away at all your relationships, especially sexual sin, so you must be honest and intentional.

4. Take Accountability for Your Actions

We all make mistakes, and even past sin, we need to be accountable for our actions. I am a firm believer that how we handle after we mess up counts a lot. We have to be willing to admit that we can be wrong and are not perfect, and have a growth mindset to learn from a mistake. A simple apology and owning your actions can go a long way and be a bridge to rekindle relationship. Taking accountability includes acknowledging when you are wrong and taking action to reconcile or fix that habit or mistake. We all have things we can be improving on, and when we acknowledge that and ask for help, the Lord will step in and help us. Having a growth mindset and being open to learn from others will set you for life. We should always be reading books or listening to podcasts or doing something to grow or improve. Taking a step matters, and God will guide you along the way. Do not be complacent.

5. Be Understanding and Selfless

The world does not revolve around you. It's a tough pill to swallow, especially in such a me-centered, toxic self-love society. When something minor happens, such as canceled plans or being left on read, instead of creating a whole story in your head to explain and going down a really dark hole, take a deep breath and do not take it personally. If something bothers you, then you can communicate with the person, or if you know someone's character, then rest on that. Most of the time, people are just trying to get through their day and deal with their own stuff, so they may not be intentionally trying to hurt you or may not realize they are. Sometimes, someone may just be having an off day. You don't know what happened previously before you encountered someone. Although they are responsible for their behavior, we can show some empathy and kindness to someone being cranky. Instead of jumping to a conclusion, we need to step out and see past ourselves and try to be more understanding. When your brain starts to come up with the worst case scenario, such as someone not liking you as a person, stop and try to see the situation from their point of view. Having different relationships with people means trusting their word and character and not having conditions on your love or care for them. You can't withdraw from someone for not meeting an unstated expectation or for a story your brain created. Of course, I am not talking about abuse, toxic behavior, or narcissistic behavior when I am staying this.

6. Set Boundaries

Setting boundaries sometimes is given a negative stigma. However, they are necessary for every type of relationship. They are not negative but are healthy. Setting boundaries shows that you care about the relationship and respect the other person enough to want to make the relationship work. Truthfully, off hand, I am unsure of where in Scripture boundaries are discussed, but I know it must be in there. Practically, boundaries work. I can tell you from personal experience. On a general level, boundaries are innate in different levels of relationships that come with different appropriate actions. Sometimes, they are unspoken and other times, they have to be communicated, such as "I am not comfortable with that" or "It bothers me when you do that" or "Can we not talk about this topic?". If I know something bothers someone or if they need space, I will act appropriately. If someone truly cares about you, they are going to respect and honor those boundaries and not guilt you or push them. If someone incessantly pushes your boundaries, especially after you have communicated them to that person, then you may want to rethink their role in your life. Also, you need to also set boundaries with yourself, such as being disciplined and self-controlled when it comes to sin and self-indulgence.

7. Do the Work

We all go through stuff that has caused deep hurts. The only one who can heal that is the Lord, and healing is extremely difficult. However, although we are not responsible for other people's behavior, we are responsible for our own and our reactions. We are responsible for doing the work and seeking God through it, so we do not project our trauma on other people. No one likes to be vulnerable and talk about or face trauma. However, you can't go through life not addressing or dealing with the hard stuff. The Lord will heal you from it when you address it. If you don't put in the work, it will affect your relationships, and you can subconsciously become toxic from harboring and projecting, even if that's not your intention. We are not meant to carry around our hurts but to surrender our burden at the feet of the Lord. Personally, it wasn't until I surrendered all my trauma and triggers that have come from that hurt to the Lord, that real change began. I have had to take responsibility for my own actions and have had to do sit and dealing with stuff that has happened. You don't have to be defined or carry what has happened to you. When seeking the Lord during healing, He is helping you grow and you may not realize the work He is doing in you. I did not realize a lot of my growth until I one day looked back and realized what used to bother me or former habits I had did not exist anymore. Doing all of these steps I have listed is what personally has helped me in my growing and healing. There's a lot of joy that can come out of the pain of dealing with your hurt, and the Lord can bring a lot of renewal. If something good can come from bad, then the past can rest in peace. You just need to keep showing up, keep going, and keep pushing on in the race of seeking Him. One of my motivations in my healing journey has been wanting to make sure that I am good within myself and with God, so that I can seek God to help me be the best wife and mother one day and every other role God has for me in this life.

By: Bible and Hot Cocoa (IG: @bibleandhotcocoa)

Jules is the founder of Bible and Hot Cocoa. She is a law student with a passion for standing up for those who cannot speak for themselves, such as unborn babies, and for connecting families through adoption. In any free time, she loves to read (Victorian lit is her favorite), study theology, write, and draw or paint. Jules's favorite book of the Bible would have to be a tie among John, Psalms, and Romans (as of now), and her favorite figure besides Jesus is King David or Paul.

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