We all have hurts, habits and hang-ups. What’s yours? Stress? Fears? Overwork? Unhealthy or unholy attractions? Addictions? Regrets? Worry? Bad habits? Anger? Dishonesty? The overwhelming need to control? Finances? Perfectionism? Resentment? Compulsive thoughts? And the list goes on.
Every problem in your life has the same root cause. Every problem in your life starts when you play God.
Jesus starts his most famous Sermon on the Mount by saying, I want to tell you eight ways to be happy. And the way you think you’re going to be happy is not at all the way the world tells you to be happy. Jesus states each of these eight ways to be healthy as what we call a “beatitude,” and we refer to them as life’s healing choices.
The first beatitude is the first healing choice, which I refer to as the reality choice, for getting rid of your habits, your hurts and your hang-ups that mess up your life. Matthew 5:3, the first Beatitude: “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs” (NLT).
And what does it mean to be “poor in spirit”? It means I admit I need help and that I’m powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing, and my life is unmanageable. That is what it means to be poor in spirit. It means to acknowledge that I can’t control and manage everything in my life but I need God’s help.
The second choice is the hope choice. It is the choice to earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to him, that he has the power to help me to change. It’s based on the second beatitude, found in Matthew 5:4, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NLT).
This third choice is a critical choice, because the next five really build on whether you make a commitment to this or not. That’s why we call it the commitment choice. Jesus said in Matthew 5:5, “God blesses those who are humble, for they will inherit the whole earth” (NLT). And to be meek means to consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control.
The fourth choice is called the housecleaning choice. We make this choice when we say, “I openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust.” Jesus said in this beatitude in Matthew 5:8, “God blesses those whose hearts are pure, for they will see God” (NLT). And being pure in heart means getting what’s on the inside of me on the outside of me.
The fifth choice is the transformation choice, in which I voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask him to remove my character defects. It’s based on what Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” When I make this choice, I’m deciding that I want to allow God to replace my hurts, habits and hang-ups with a whole new life.
The sixth choice is the relationship choice. Jesus said in Matthew 5:7, 9, “God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy… God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God” (NLT). This is where I evaluate all of my relationships, offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me, and make amends for harm that I have done to others, except when to do so would harm them or others.
The seventh choice is the growth choice. I start to grow and get spiritually healthy and develop maturity when I reserve a daily time with God for Bible reading, self-examination and prayer in order to know God and his will for my life and to gain the power to follow his will.
And the eighth and final choice is the sharing choice, when I turn outwardly and help others to take these same steps. It’s part of being a peacemaker, and it’s really the great result of having started walking through recovery. Nothing is more contagious than the life-changing power of the Gospel.
Long before there was a recovery or addiction program, Jesus used one of his greatest sermons to lay the foundation for our healing from every hurt, habit and hang-up!