- What was their very first job in middle school or high school?
- Were they successful at it? What did they like or dislike about it?
- What was the best thing about their very first job?
Understanding First jobs are varied – from babysitting to paper routes to dog-sitting or lawn mowing. As kids, most of us likely had a simple first job, and the best part was that for the very first time we have earned our own money. First jobs are one sign of independence, and although we might not have liked our job or been very good at it, we did like the financial freedom it brought.
- When is independence not necessarily a good thing?
There are actually several times in life when being independent, or choosing to do things on your own is not the best course of action, AND this is especially true in our spiritual lives.
Isaiah 30: 15 - “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 - “For you are saved by grace, through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- not from works, so that no one can boast.“
- What do these verses say about our salvation?
- What is our part or role in salvation?
- In what ways do we try to add to our salvation?
Galatians 1:6, 3:1–3 - “I am shocked that you are turning away so soon from God, who called you to himself through the loving mercy of Christ. You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News. Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?”
- What was Paul accusing the Galatians of doing?
- Why was this a problem?
- How do we shift from depending on the Holy Spirit to depending on our own human effort? Why do we do this?
This is not a new problem! Even the very earliest Christians felt the need to try to become more “spiritual” through their efforts. As Christians, we can all fall into the trap of trying harder. We resolve to be better disciplined in praying or reading our Bible; we attempt to overcome our sinful habits by willpower; we say yes to every service opportunity either to earn God’s approval or prove our worth.
- Share about a time when they knew they were trying harder to be a better Christian or to earn God’s approval? What did trying harder lead to? (Possible answers include: pride, arrogance, burn out, dissatisfaction, fatigue, frustration…)
- What changed, or what helped them to stop striving?
Proverbs 3:5-6 - “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.”
Psalms 52:9 - “I will praise You forever, O God, for what You have done. I will trust in Your good name in the presence of Your faithful people.
- According to these verses, what is better than trying harder?
- What are some of our obstacles to trusting God and His goodness?
- Why is trusting more difficult than trying harder?
Again, the key to trusting is abiding or remaining in Jesus.
John 15:5 - “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
While taking our first job was a positive step towards our eventual independence from our parents, taking any independent steps away from God leads to emptiness & nothingness.
What’s Your Next Step
So, in what area(s) of your life do you need to learn to trust God more?
How do you think trusting more will impact your life and the lives of those around you?
Father God, please show each of us any areas in our lives where we have moved from trusting You to trying harder. Help us to desire greater dependence on You. We ask that You, the God of hope to fill us with all joy and peace as we trust in You, so that we may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13). In Jesus’ name, amen.