Pitfalls On Your Walk With Jesus

Paul, an apostle whose life was totally transformed by his encounter with the Lord Jesus Christ, tells us – no, stronger than that – exhorts us to “redeem the time because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5:16)
On our journey with Jesus we have much to learn and it takes time to get to know Him better as each day comes. It takes time to learn how to live a life pleasing to Him. It takes time to learn to live before Him. It takes time to grow in His life – learning to release His life from within and allowing Him to live His life through us. And, I observe that a lot of believers are wasting their time. And, let’s admit it, our time is limited and each day seems to have more to do than we can accomplish. So, we cannot afford to waste time.
Here are some ways I see that we waste our time as believers and disciples of the Lord…

1> We allow ourselves to be bitter against someone who has hurt us
Bitterness rooted in unforgiveness will destroy your spiritual life and take others down with you. You will also defile many as a result.
Hebrews 12:15 “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled…”
Here is how that works. Someone offends you or hurts you. God immediately pours out His grace upon you. If you grab hold of the grace you will forgive and go to the person who offended or wounded you and deal with the issues. If you “fail to obtain the grace” you will go to others and share your hurt and tell them your side of the story. Of course, it is only one side and only a partial truth. The person, being a good Christian, loves you, listens to you, and prays with you. You feel better. They feel good that they were able to help you.
But, the root is still there and it will fester and grow again – the spiritual pressure and anger will grow inside of you and then you will go and seek someone else out who will listen and “minister” to you. This can go on for months even years. Then, one day you wake up spiritually and realize you need to go to the person who offended you and deal with the issue or issues. And, the grace is there to enable you to do so.
However, every person you have spoken to now has a different picture of the person who hurt you. They have a twisted view of this person. And, although you are now reconciled and doing great…those you shared with and who ministered to you do not have the grace nor, most likely, the opportunity to deal with what they are feeling towards your once one time enemy. So, you are good and many are defiled.
Such a total waste of time and so destructive to both your spiritual life and the many relationships which will be adversely effected by your actions.
2> Use your time, your money, and your resources only for yourself and your needs.
Being selfish and being the center of your life (self-focused) is never healthy or beneficial to your walk with the Lord. We need to be Christ-centred and focused on others. There are 59 “one another” verses in the New Testament. Love one another, forgive one another, pray for one another, bear one another’s burdens… you get the idea. You cannot and will not fulfill any of these “commands” if you are the center of your own universe. And, when you don’t fulfill these commands then this has an adverse and negative effect on your relationship with Jesus.
3> Spend little to no time with the Lord in solitude – just you and Him alone.
Christians fill their lives with all sorts of activities staying busy from early morning to late at night. Most times these are good activities and even necessary things that need to be focused on and accomplished. However, maybe we need to slow the pace of life down somewhat and make room for the most important thing – your relationship with your Lord and Saviour, the living Jesus Christ.
This means taking a hard look at your daily schedule and weekly routine and creating some margin. Everyone today lives on the edge. They are filling their calendars full. They are spending everything they are earning and then some. They are emotionally exhausted. There is no extra (margin) at the end of the day. So, we need to slow things down, prioritize somewhat, and then schedule time with the Lord first before everything else. Then, never fill a day full (or spend to the limit, or emotionally give till you are empty and stressed out… step back a bit and fill 90% of the waking hours … giving you some margin. Spend 80% of your money, save 10% and give 10% (tithe) and thus create margin (space to breathe). You get the idea.
So, the third pitfall in our journey with Jesus is living on the edge and not prioritizing and creating margin in every aspect of our life as we do so.
We are looking at the ways we, as believers, can waste our time being a Christian…
1> Allow yourself to be bitter against someone who has hurt or offended you
2> Use your time, your money, and your resources only for yourself and your needs
3> Spend little to no time with the Lord in solitude – just you and Him alone
4> Neglect reading the Scriptures (your Bible)
The Bible contains God’s Words and is the first and best way that He speaks to us. The Bible reveals Christ to us so we come to know Him better and on a deeper level as we journey with Him in daily life. In fact, Jesus tells us that His Words (contained in the New Testament Gospels) are “spirit and they are life for the believer.
John 6:63 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
The Bible accounts of Jesus’ life bear witness to Him and reveal to us who He is, His character, His nature, His mind (we can have the mind of Christ) and His heart for us and all people.
John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…”
And, the Bible goes on to tell us that the words recorded are inspired by God – set out for us to have life and have it more abundantly.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”
If we take out the extra phrases … “profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, and training” we end up with the basic point that is being made.
My personal version: “All Scripture is given by God that the people of God may be complete and equipped.”
The word “complete” means to be like Jesus
The word “equipped” means to be able to do what Jesus did (John 14:12)
So, if you want to waste your time as a believer, avoid reading the Bible.
5> Defame others or misrepresent time or their work (especially fellow believers).
If you want to waste your time on the journey with Jesus don’t go to people directly if you have a concern or a problem and ask them for clarity. And, if you do go to them, don’t really listen with your heart to what they have to say.
Don’t be deceived: To speak ill about or misrepresent another follower of Jesus is to speak ill about or misrepresent Jesus Himself. And, He does not take Kindly to it.
The Bible is very clear about this:
Matthew 25:40 “And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Acts 9:1-4 “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’”
Titus 3:2 “… to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarrelling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.”
Slander is a serious sin and it is a transgression of Jesus’ teaching…
Matthew 7:12a “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them…”
We are looking at how to waste our time as believers in Jesus…
1> Allow yourself to be bitter against someone who has hurt or offended you
2> Use your time, your money, and your resources only for yourself and your needs
3> Spend little to no time with the Lord in solitude – just you and Him alone
4> Neglect reading the Scriptures (your Bible)
5> Defame others or misrepresent them or their work (especially fellow believers).
6> Rarely (or never) read books with spiritual depth or listen to Christ-centered messages by other servants of God.
Forget the contribution of the Body of Christ, past and present. Throw out spiritual education. Live under the delusion that all you need in the Holy Spirit and your Bible.
Many believers live this way and don’t take advantage of the large number of resources that are available today on-line and in print. Many Christians who are young are not readers. So, even to convince them to read the Bible is not easy. Many of the young men that I disciple and mentor readily admit that a book a year would be a miracle. I recommend a book a week.
There are so many amazing Christian writers – past and present – who have insights and understanding that could benefit the whole Body of Christ if those who follow Jesus would simply pick up the discipline of reading Christian literature. And, it is a disciple.
First, you need to decide to read what great Christian authors have written. Then you need to carve out time daily to read so that it becomes a habit. It can be 15 minutes, a half hour, or whatever you can release from your regular routines to invest in your growth as a believer. And then you need to journal or record the things that the Lord is showing you from the books that you are reading.
Recording what you are learning is really important as then you retain the lessons you have learned as well as being able, at a later date, to look back and examine the growth that has taken place both spiritually and mentally.
So, get started. Speak to a Christian leader or a friend who is a reader and see what they are reading and would recommend that you read.
A warning: 95%+ of the books being published currently in the field of Christian literature are simply not worth reading not the money it costs to purchase them. Choose writings with depth and substance and avoid the pop theology and Christian self-help books being published by the thousands every year.
Another way to waste your time and not grow as believers…
7> Have no fellowship or relationship with other believers. Live as a solo Christian.
Many use the excuse that they simply don’t have time to have meaningful fellowship with another believer or believers. Others are so self-contained and spiritual arrogant that they use the excuse that they can’t find any other Christians who are mature and who love Jesus like they do.
Every believer needs to have a number of others in their lives who are sharing their journey with Jesus with them.
First of all, every believer needs a mentor. This is someone who is more mature and knowledgeable in the faith with whom you can relate. Thy will share their experience and knowledge with you and help you to grow and mature, developing some of the weaker areas of your character and Christian walk. They might even ask you to travel with them – family holidays, fishing trips, ministry trips – opportunities to come to know them in the fullness of their personhood. So, like Timothy in the New Testament, you need to find a Paul (or two).
Every believer also needs a Timothy – someone you are relating to who is not as far along in their personal journey with Jesus as you are. This enables you to help them grow and mature. Like Paul had Silas and others. What’s in it for you? They will challenge your beliefs and test your character and cause you to grow in many ways.
Thirdly, every believer needs an accountability partner. This is someone you have grown to totally trust and can be 100% open, transparent, and honest with. They will come to know you better than any other person on the planet. And, they will ask you the hard questions and keep you honest with yourself. These questions could include some of the following.
1. Have you been a testimony this week to the greatness of Jesus Christ with both your words and actions?
2. Have you been exposed to sexually alluring material or allowed your mind to entertain inappropriate thoughts about someone who is not your spouse this week?
3. Have you lacked any integrity in your financial dealings this week, or coveted something that does not belong to you?
4. Have you been honouring, understanding and generous in your important relationships this past week?
5. Have you damaged another person by your words, either behind their back or face-to-face?
6. Have you given in to an addictive behaviour this week? Explain.
7. Have you continued to remain angry toward another?
8. Have you secretly wished for another’s misfortune so that you might excel?
9. Did you finish your reading this week and hear from the Lord? What are you going to do about it?
10. Have you been completely honest with me?
As we draw this study to a close – let’s review what we have learned.
We are studying mistakes or pitfalls that many Christians fall into and thus destroy the potential that is available in them as believers. We have looked carefully at…
1> Allow yourself to be bitter against someone who has hurt or offended you
2> Use your time, your money, and your resources only for yourself and your needs
3> Spend little to no time with the Lord in solitude – just you and Him alone
4> Neglect reading the Scriptures (your Bible)
5> Defame others or misrepresent them or their work (especially fellow believers).
6> Rarely (or never) read books with spiritual depth or listen to Christ-centered messages by other servants of God.
7> Have no fellowship or relationship with other believers. Live as a solo Christian.
8> Let envy and jealousy take hold of your heart and drive your actions
Envy and jealousy are often the root behind slander (see #1 and #5 in this series). Incidentally, countless Christians don’t know what slander looks like and fail to recognize it when it is right in front of them But, know what it is or not, engaging or listening to slander proves toxic to your spiritual life.
Slander is …The noun
A false tale or report maliciously uttered. and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing them to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing their means of making a living; defamation.
Slander is … The verb
Disgrace; reproach; disreputation; ill name.
To defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting a person; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.
The Bible calls this giving an “evil report” and God does not turn a blind eye to any situation where an evil report is present.
9> Never learn from your mistakes not take responsibility for them.
Blame others instead. Blame your past and claim victim status. Blame the situation you now live in. Blame the circumstances of life. Never take responsibility for what is happening in or around you.
An example: “I drink because of my wife, my job, and the current situation I am facing in my life.”
That is a person who is blaming other people or other things and is not taking responsibility for their own behaviour. They drink because they have made a choice to do so. No one or any thing is forcing them to pour that alcohol into the glass and down their throat. (Feel free to substitute your word for “drink”… eat, spend, do drugs, watch pornography.
These people never apologize for their behaviour, attitude or the harm they have inflicted on others. They never even recognize the people they have wronged.
10> Waste every crisis that comes into your life.
A crisis is a difficult and unwelcome opportunity to discover Jesus Christ in a new way. Don’t look for the hand of God behind the crisis and submit to it. Forget James and Peter who both said, “Humble yourself under God’s mighty hand, and He will exalt you.”
1 Peter 5:6-7 “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”
James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.”
Instead – blame God and others and feel sorry for yourself. That way you will not grow through the crisis or learn anything that might help you be a better person and a more mature Christian.
The above 10 points we have been looking at over the last few days are in no particular order. And, many other points can, I am sure, be added to the list. But each of these is a sure-fire way to hamper your growth in Christ and waste your time being a follower of Jesus.