Arminian Today

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Five Things I Would Tell My Twenty Something Self

I am nearing 42 years old.  My hair is turning gray.  I feel older.  I am getting to that point in life where you start to ponder your past as well as your future.  Thankfully, I know that Christ has saved me (despite my ups and downs over the years) and while I am very far from perfect, I do long to be like Christ.  There is a hunger for sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3) that I pray for (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).  I am thankful for the grace of God that brings salvation (Titus 2:11-12) and the grace of God that sustains me (Philippians 1:6).  Without the Lord Jesus, I would not be saved (Romans 8:38-39; Jude 24-25).

What would I say to my younger self if I could write to me back then?  I could write a book on this.  Five points is not enough but for the sake of brevity, I will only do five.

First, I would say get closer to God for He alone is the only one who will satisfy.  In my twenties, before marriage, I thought that a woman would satisfy me.  She did not.  I have had to learn the hard way that only God can fully satisfy the human heart.  No wonder the Lord rebukes those who trust in flesh and make flesh their strength (Jeremiah 17:5).  I use to quote that verse back when I was 18 years old and broke up with my first Christian girlfriend.  How I wish that verse would have sunk deep into my soul.  No person can satisfy like the Lord God.  No one.

Secondly, you will change your theology along the way and that is okay.  When I was a young man, I thought I had theology figured out.  I would preach sermons and be so “right” about issues whether it be theology or life.  I remember doing counseling (if you can call it that) in which I would just quote the Bible the entire time and not show any emotions or reactions.  I would tell people to just read their Bible and do it!  That was my advice.  I was so legalistic toward others but not toward myself.  I hated their sins but not nearly as much as I should have been hating my own (Romans 7:18).  I also was uncharitable toward those whom I disagreed.  How I wish I could go back and take back my theology debates with brothers and sisters.  I wish I could have been filled with love and not with pride.  I wish I could have been loving and kind instead of mean and bitter.

Thirdly, always remember that it is Jesus who keeps us and not we ourselves.  As a young man, I would have given an “amen” to this but the reality for me was that I didn’t think God loved me unless I did all that He wanted me to do which was: pray, read my Bible, give 10% of my gross, support missions, do evangelism, worship, go to church, read Christian books, listen only to Christian music, avoid worldliness in every shape or fashion, avoid all sin, daily repent, etc.  My entire Christian life was full of doing but inside I didn’t really believe God loved me.  In fact, for many years I thought God hated me or at least He was disappointed in me.  I would quote Romans 8:1 but it wasn’t in my heart.  I would quote 1 John 4:19 but I didn’t really believe God loved me despite what I knew about the cross.  I thought I had to prove my love for God but my actions (James 2:14-26) and thus I was caught in a “give and take” relationship in which God gave me His Son for my sins (John 3:16) but I had to give my all to Him (which mainly meant keeping the rules) to remain saved.  When I would fall into sin (and I did many, many times), I would run to God and confess my sins (1 John 1:9) but I would hold to a sort of Catholic view of penance where I had to pray more, read my Bible more, share my faith more, go to church more to prove that I truly was sorry for what I had done.  When I would fall again, I would do it all over again.  I wish I could go back and just say, “Stop.  Believe that you are loved by Christ and secure in Him.  Make Him your delight  and not your works.”  I have learned much from Arminius here about the assurance of my salvation: that my salvation is based on the work of Jesus Christ and not my works (Philippians 3:3-11 and yes read it!)

Fourthly, “be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” (James 1:19).  Proverbs 17:28 should drive you, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”  Proverbs 13:3 says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin.”  Proverbs 21:23, “Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.”

If I could go back right here and tell my younger self to avoid using that tongue, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartache.  How many have I hurt along the way?  How many would I go back and try to say the kind thing, the right thing, the loving thing?  When I was in my twenties, I remember taking my old faithful NIV and writing down countless references to the tongue from Proverbs.  I posted them on a sticky note that I kept for many years.  Why didn’t I abide by them?  The preachers I hurt.  The Christians I hurt.  You’ll be a better man if you’ll just shut up.

Lastly, Christians will hurt you.  A lot.  I know you and I know you’ll want to preach on holiness, on how the church should be unified and all.  But I promise you, Christians will hurt you and let you down a lot.  Preachers will fail.  Your own friends that you now have will turn away from Christ.  A few will come back but only nominally.  Every church you will attend will have people in it that will hurt you.  The only one who will not hurt you will be the Lord Jesus.  That is the good news.  Just as I said back at the first point, God alone will remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:13).  I’ve been an imperfect Christian now for over 20 years and I have had many, many Christians hurt me and I’ve hurt them (see the point above) but the Lord Jesus has remained the same (Hebrews 13:8).  Don’t place your faith in others.  They will fail you.  Your wife will fail you (yes you do get married).  You will fail your wife.  You will be a let down to your friends, family, and your own children.  But that is why you must point them to Christ.  He is our only hope.  He alone is the only one who is faithful and true.

But in the end, you will not listen to me.  You’ll learn this the hard way you old stubborn mule.

Your Friend Till You Die,

Roy

PS – No the South Carolina Gamecocks will not win the national championship in football but they do in baseball (twice back to back) and the Dodgers will spend billions of dollars but do nothing with it.  Oh and in 2004, place a large bet on the Red Sox to win it all!  You’ll see why.

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Written by The Seeking Disciple

06/17/2016 at 1:18 PM

2 Responses

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  1. Good advice from a youngster (I’m 78). I certainly agree with the first four points. However, although I recognize the truth of the fifth one–“Christians will hurt you,” I’ve been lucky in regard to it. Despite my often failing others, I’ve seldom been failed by fellow Christians. Best wishes in striving to become more like Christ.

    Bob Hunter

    06/18/2016 at 12:18 AM

  2. Wow good advice. I’m learning from this

    SLIMJIM

    06/18/2016 at 3:08 AM


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