If you’ve studied physics (or ever played QBasic Gorillas), you know it only takes a slight difference in launch angle to completely change the trajectory of a moving object. Likewise, in the Christian life, there are many seemingly subtle nuances which actually have massive impact on our worship of God and lives with him.
I enjoyed this devotional from Charles Spurgeon on “Looking Unto Jesus” and am struck by the fact that though there is a world of difference between looking to Jesus and looking to ourselves, sometimes the initial shift feels so slight we don’t realize we’ve turned our gaze inward.
Sometimes, it isn’t until we find ourselves despairing, doubtful and discouraged that we trace back our struggles to trying to find hope in ourselves and our own faith or spirituality. And sometimes, we need to hear someone articulate for us the difference between hoping in Christ and hoping in self to make that connection.
So, here’s an excerpt from the prince of preachers today:
“Looking unto Jesus.” (Heb. 12:2)
It is ever the Holy Spirit’s work to turn our eyes away from self to Jesus; but Satan’s work is just the opposite of this, for he is constantly trying to make us regard ourselves instead of Christ. He insinuates, “Your sins are too great for pardon; you have no faith; you do not repent enough; you will never be able to continue to the end; you have not the joy of his children; you have such a wavering hold of Jesus.” All these are thoughts about self, and we shall never find comfort or assurance by looking within. But the Holy Spirit turns our eyes entirely away from self: he tells us that we are nothing, but that “Christ is all in all.” Remember, therefore, it is not thy hold of Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not thy joy in Christ that saves thee–it is Christ; it is not even faith in Christ, though that be the instrument–it is Christ’s blood and merits; therefore, look not so much to thy hand with which thou art grasping Christ, as to Christ; look not to thy hope, but to Jesus, the source of thy hope; look not to thy faith, but to Jesus, the author and finisher of thy faith. We shall never find happiness by looking at our prayers, our doings, or our feelings; it is what Jesus is, not what we are, that gives rest to the soul. If we would at once overcome Satan and have peace with God, it must be by “looking unto Jesus.” Keep thine eye simply on him; let his death, his sufferings, his merits, his glories, his intercession, be fresh upon thy mind; when thou wakest in the morning look to him; when thou liest down at night look to him. Oh! let not thy hopes or fears come between thee and Jesus; follow hard after him, and he will never fail thee.
“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness:
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”
( June 28, Morning by Morning. Tip: Access Charles Spurgeon’s Morning & Evening daily devotional at Biblegateway.)
The Christian’s hope is not how much faith he has. It is in Jesus who trustworthy.
It is not in the progress in sanctification she’s making or how she is doing spiritually compared to others. It is in Jesus who sanctifies.
It is not in yesterday’s experiences or our own “decisions for Christ.” It is in Jesus’ finished work on the cross and his ministry of intercession for us today.
It is not in our promises to “do better next time.” It is in he who finishes the work he began in us.
It is not in our penitence and sorrow over sin, but he who receives and purifies repentant sinners.
It is not in our fruitfulness as branches. It is in the life-sustaining vine.
It is not in our faithfulness as sheep, but the Shepherd’s steadfast care.
Dear Christian, look to Jesus today.
And take heart. Because in the final count, what matters most won’t be how well you did looking to him, but that his gaze was ever upon you.