When released from our stubborn self-will, we are free to enjoy true contentment.

Do you tend to zero in on the deficiencies of those you come in contact with? Are you apt to criticize people who don’t measure up to your ideals? Truth is, most of us hold tightly to the concept that anyone who doesn’t do things our way is just plain wrong.

If anyone well understands this, I do. Finding fault comes naturally for me. When I proofread copy, I catch most of the mistakes. As a counselor, I readily assess a client’s needed areas for growth and improvement. I have a critical, perfectionistic nature. This trait serves me well in tasks that require analysis, evaluation and precision, but in relationships—not so much.


It’s self-righteous pride that causes us to have an unreasonably high, over-inflated opinion of our own excellence and importance. It gives us a heart that says my way is just as good as, or higher than, God’s way (Isaiah 14:13-14). This self-focus prevents us from submitting to God’s purposes and his way of doing things. We fail to acknowledge that those we criticize haven’t yet attained spiritual maturity and still have time to progress in their spiritual journey.


Needing to always have things done in accord with our own standards has a way of controlling and consuming us. Laying that burden down requires us to stop finding fault with everyone through voluntarily choosing self-denial. And, guess what? When released from our stubborn self-will, we are free to enjoy true contentment. The more we practice the discipline of submission to God’s ways and as we let go of more and more of self, we experience more of the joy that accompanies freedom.


Joy is God’s gift of grace to those who humbly submit to his way of doing things. When we admit our failures and seek to do God’s will, we draw closer to God. As we take hold of more of God, the grip of our dependency on the world weakens. God’s grace gives us another spirit than that of the world. It gives us grace to restrain our passions. It subdues our inclination to find fault and criticize. God’s grace gives us the strength we need to stand against a world preoccupied with having things its own way and it leads to a greater benefit than the world can give—genuine joy and true contentment. This grace will not be found in the proud person. God only gives this grace to the meek ones who live in humble submission to him.


The humility of God’s way is others-focused. It treats people with love and respect. God’s way frees us to value others and love them unconditionally, even if they don’t love us in return. This spirit of consideration and deference toward others helps us to build constructive and supportive relationships. We surrender the right to retaliate when we feel that another didn’t give us the treatment we think we deserve. We’re free from that anger and bitterness and instead we can feel genuine sorrow for the other’s failings. The grace of God’s Spirit allows us to rise above a worldly perspective of false superiority to view others from the truly higher ground of spiritual maturity.

But he gives all the more grace; therefore it says, God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6