We all have our favorite verses. Some of them we love because they’re comforting. Others we may have memorized for that extra boost of confidence or encouragement they provide when we really need it.
But here are five verses that I believe would absolutely change our lives – for the better – if we really believed them.
1. Matthew 10:37 – “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
When it comes to the sayings of Jesus, this is one I wish wasn’t in the Bible. And I’m not alone in that. I’ve heard many young moms ask me how they can love Jesus more than their own child. And furthermore, how could God actually expect them to? Yet Jesus wasn’t suggesting that we be negligent in our concern for others. Nor was He merely suggesting that we like Him a lot. He was commanding total allegiance. The Son of God who became our Savior demands and deserves to be first place in our hearts.
I believe He was fleshing out the “first and greatest commandment” when He said this, and showing us what it looks like in our lives to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength”(Mark 12:30). If we really believed Jesus when He said we must love Him more than our own parents and children – more than what is closest and dearest to our hearts – our lives would look radically different in how we honor Him, sacrifice for Him, and show a daily love and devotion toward Him.
Here’s one we love to quote, especially the first part of the verse. But when we look at the entire verse, along with verse 29 – “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” (ESV) – we get the bigger picture of what God is doing in the lives of believers when we encounter struggles. In the NASB translation, we discover that “God causes all things to work together for good” in order to make us more like Christ. When we truly believe that God not only works in, but causes events in our lives to conform us to Christ’s character, we will no longer doubt, worry, stress, or become anxious when hard times hit us. We will instead rest assured that God is at work in every situation in our lives to make us more like His Son and nothing – absolutely nothing – takes Him by surprise.
3. Galatians 2:20 – “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
If you and I really considered ourselves crucified with Christ and our motto was “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” we’d be much less concerned about our personal image or reputation and we’d be all about Him and His concerns. When we truly die to self, we no longer worry about whether or not we’re getting respect for who we are and what we do. We wouldn’t be bothered by misunderstandings that cast us in a bad light, situations that are to our disadvantage, circumstances that humiliate us, jobs that are beneath us, or rumors that are untrue. Being crucified with Christ means His name is my name. I can live knowing He’s got my back because it’s His back. That must be what Christ meant when He said, “whoever loses their life for me will find it” (Matthew 16:25, NIV).
4. Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” How we love this verse because it appears to be a victory chant for our ability to do anything. We perceive it as God wants me to prosper, therefore I can do all things. But in context, the Apostle Paul was saying he has learned to live in whatever circumstance God put him in. “For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (verses 11-13, NASB).
Are you wondering if you can live on your meager salary? Is God calling you to a ministry and you don’t know how to fund it? Are you wondering how you will persevere in your physical condition or continued diagnosis? This verse is an assurance to us that as we surrender to Christ, He will enable us to live in whatever circumstances He has called us. Next time you start to think I just can’t live like this remember you can also do all things (even endure your situation) through Him who gives you strength.
5. James 1:2-4 – “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” One of the most difficult struggles for believers is understanding why we have to struggle at all. Yet this verse packs a promise. Our testing and trials produce in us perseverance, which in turn results in our maturity and completion. In the NASB, we are told that the endurance learned through suffering will make us “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” Isn’t that what we strive for? To be perfect as Christ is? Yet we can’t without His help. God’s Word tells us, straight-out, that we can be perfected in Christ Jesus when we not only endure our difficult situations, but when we actually consider them joy. If you and I really believed this, we’d be much happier at the things that continually bring us down. We’d be joyful, knowing we were on our way to maturity and completion in Christ.
What do you think? Are you ready to start really believing these verses and living differently? The choice is yours.
Cindi McMenamin is a national speaker and best-selling author who helps women and couples find strength for the soul. She is the author of 15 books, including When Couples Walk Together (co-authored with her husband, Hugh), When God Sees Your Tears, God's Whispers to a Woman's Heart, and 10 Secrets to Becoming a Worry-Free Mom. For more on her books, ministry, or free resources to strengthen your soul, marriage, or relationships, see her website: StrengthForTheSoul.com
Publication date: September 22, 2016