Remaking Ourselves

By inheritance, by the influence of environment, and by the effect of our own habits, we are weak, undeveloped, or abnormal in many of the human traits and faculties which grace either leaves untouched or only partly affects and which we need to set ourselves about correcting, improving, or developing. In many things we are the product of our own effects. Grace does much, but grace can never take the place of our own efforts in self-development. Sin often weakens the will until it loses its original power of control over desire. When we let desire become master, we destroy the balance of our forces. The will must rule over desire if we are to be righteous; so if the will is weak, we need to set about the task of strengthening it. To do this we must lay out for ourselves a definite course of action, and then, knowing what we ought to do, not let ourselves be turned away from that, no matter what natural desire may suggest. Form the habit of carrying out what you start to do in spite of obstacles, in spite of fluctuation of desire and the inclination to stop instead of going forward. Carry out your purposes. Never be hasty in deciding to do a thing; but when you have once decided, carry out that decision fully unless you discover some good reason why you should not do so. If you begin things and do not finish them, but grow weary and let them go or let yourself be turned aside to something else, you weaken your will each time. It is better to complete a few things than to begin many and finish none. One thing carried resolutely through strengthens you and makes success easier next time. By this means a weak will can often be greatly strengthened in a short time. When you say no, stick to it unless you see you are wrong. Do not let your refusal become a yielding later. If you ought to say no at the first, it ought to be no to the end. If one no to temptation is not enough, say it again and again. Either you or temptation must lose. You have the power to make your first no a final no if you hold your ground.

We may have cultivated self-will until submission to any other will is hard. We love our own way. We find it hard to submit to God, to our brethren, or to circumstances. To be successful Christians we must conquer this self-will. We must compel ourselves to yield against our natural inclinations until we form the habit of submission to the extent that we should submit. Some never conquer themselves sufficiently to yield gracefully, nor to yield at all until circumstances force them to do so. They lose many of the sweetest things of life because of this self-will. They often feel that their rights are being trespassed on; in fact, whenever you find a person who is always standing up for his rights, you find one of those self-willed individuals. Such persons never progress very deeply into the grace of God, since they are never willing to make the surrender necessary to give God the chance to make the spiritual. Conquer your self-will; cultivate submissiveness. It is the only way to true happiness.

Another thing that we need to cultivate is courage. The world hates a coward, and the devil too, I think, has little respect for him. The man who would be a successful Christian needs courage. Life is a battle, and it takes courage to win it. You can be brave just as well as anyone else. Start in to face your foes just as if you were brave, no matter how little courage you have not how much you tremble. If you act as if you were brave, it will produce the same results upon your foe as if you were brave; and if you act bravely, you will soon come to feel brave. If for a time you act more bravely than you feel, that action will win, and the victory won will produce confidence, which is the foundation of courage. You will either cultivate courage by meeting your foes and obstacles and overcoming them, or you will increase your fears by yielding to them. Remember this: you may be courageous if you will. You may become fearless if you will, no matter how timid you are now. Set yourself to the task of being a bold soldier for Christ. You may be such if you will.

Some have cultivated gloominess and despondency in their sinful days by looking on the dark side of things until they are discouraged most of the time. If you have formed this habit, set about breaking yourself of it. There is just as much sunshine in the world for you as for anyone else if you will come out of your cavern of gloom. Cultivate hope. God is on your side. Read his promises and believe they are for you and begin to act in conformity with your faith. So many people are always looking at their trials and their failures, and consequently they see but little else in their lives. This is always discouraging. If you want to see something worthwhile, look at "the pit from whence you were digged." Look at the things in which you are different from what you used to be. "Behold what God hath wrought." Make yourself look away from the dark picture. There is something better than this to look at. Form the habit of right thinking, overcome your morbidness. God wills that you be happy, and there are enough good things around you to make you happy if you will give them your attention.

Wherever you find yourself weak or undeveloped, set yourself the task of making yourself what you ought to be. God will help you, but he cannot accomplish the desired result alone. You must do your part. Grace has its part, but only a part. Train your own faculties, develop your own powers. Do not be content to be a weakling. Be a real man for God. Do not be satisfied to be less than your best. Do not fold your arms and lament because you are what you are. This will not make things better. Get into the harness and go to work. Many people never develop their resources. Their lives might count twenty-fold more if they would have it so. You can make of yourself more than you have ever hoped if you will set resolutely about the task in an intelligent way. Be your very best if it does cost earnest effort. You will not regret the effort when you see the results.