Are You Your Own Worst Enemy?
I took some time this week to ask people I respect this question.
Are you your own worst enemy?
Let’s see if you identify with some of their answers.
“I am my own worst enemy because of my tendency to worry about everything instead of trusting God. Worry has been my Achilles heel ever since I was a child, and it's only ramped up since I became a wife and a mom. The worst thing about worry is that it steals the joy out of life by distracting me from today and placing me in the midst of a scary hypothetical ‘someday’.”
“My perfectionism...if I don't feel like I have enough time or a plan, I'm less likely to spend time in the Word rather than just reading anyway, with what time I have.”
“I see this problem especially in my words. I often choose to ignore the Lord's voice and say what I'm thinking anyway, simply for the approval of others or for my own fleshly satisfaction. In that sense, I am my own worst enemy - God has given me the tools to be obedient, and yet I choose to go my own way.”
“Hands down, it’s fear. Fear of success and people expecting me to sustain that ‘good’. And then fear I’ll fail and be found a fraud. Fear that maybe God isn’t good, and I’ll have a Job experience and self-destruct instead of leaning on Him.”
“Comparing myself to others and thinking that I should have the gifts that God has given them. Basically I am never more insecure than I am every day at my job.”
“Pride and arrogance crop up over and over and render me hard and inflexible for service.
“Anger and Disappointment in dealing with my failed expectations.
“I am very critical and harsh with myself on just about every level. Somehow it’s easier to believe these lies of unworthiness about myself, so that maybe I won’t get caught off guard if someone else attacks. I’ll just agree with them to avoid the shame of feeling like a fool.”
“I value right and wrong so much that I will not even start something new to avoid doing it wrong.”
“My flesh buys into the constant lie that I can make it without time in the Word. My heart, soul, and brain all know, both from truth and experience, that this is NOT true, but somehow I still buy into that lie all the time. It’s like a gravitational pull away from God to myself.”
Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
When I got these texts and emails, it was like grasping tiny mirrors and seeing my own internal enemies. I am incredibly prideful and arrogant. I am scared of failing and being alone, separate from God’s affections. I have a horrible tendency to compare myself to anyone around me. I neglect God’s Words and His Will in my selfish pursuit of what gives me the most satisfaction in the moment.
The enemies within are real, my dear friends. If you haven’t named them as such, then consider this an invitation. And once you do, remember you’re in good company. It was the Apostle Paul who wrote:
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15
Internal enemies are a reality on this side of heaven, and buying into their lies handicap the strongest of believers. But identifying what they are is only the beginning.
In the book of Nehemiah, while the nation of Israel was rebuilding their walls of protection, they also had to fend off attacks from surrounding enemies. It made the work more difficult. But what made it even more difficult was when they identified enemies within the walls as well, which hindered their God-given task.
If you have time to read Nehemiah chapter 5, you will find the Israelites were oppressing the poor amongst themselves. Taxation, loans, back payments, and even slavery were everyday realities, and they were causing rifts within God’s people.
Their disunity was a product of the sin found in the lives of those building the walls of Jerusalem. And that production came to a halt when the oppressed cried out for mercy. Nehemiah had no choice but to guide them in dealing with their sin (Nehemiah 5:6-19).
The same is true for us. The lies within us partner with our personalities or internal wiring and lead us right into sin. That gravitational pull to sin then paralyzes our hands, and we become ineffective for the kingdom, stymieing the work God has led us to accomplish.
The defense that we need, then, must be internal as well as external. We must combat our own selves, and Nehemiah gratefully gives a picture of where it must start.
“Ought you not to walk in the fear of our God…” 5:9
“...But I did not do so, because of the fear of God.” 5:15
Just like Nehemiah we must fear God first, before anything else. This fear manifests itself in a state of awe-like reverence, seeing God as sovereign over all things in both control and power.
And it is this fear that is integral in our internal battles.
Fearing God first keeps our hearts, minds, and thoughts in their proper place, solely on our Father in heaven. When that is true, the lies become secondary to Christ, and they lose their power, keeping us from being pulled to sin.
Then, there are other practical things we can do to combat the enemies within, so we don’t become our own worst enemy.
Here is some advice from those same people who were so transparent above.
“Scripture says plainly that joy is a fruit of the Spirit and that the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. My worry sets in when I take my eyes off of my Creator and place them on myself or my circumstances.”
“The Bible tells us that God's divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. I ask the Lord on a daily basis to make my words wise, kind, and humble, because wisdom, kindness, and humility are areas in which I struggle. So, I experience the Lord's conviction before I speak, specifically in moments when I am tempted to say something that is not helpful for building others up.’’
“God has given me specific gifts, and I need to be confident in those and stop trying to be other people. I am created in Christ Jesus and created to works that only I can do. That is what he wants of me.”
“I have to willfully take out the foolish stiffness of pride before I become gentle again.”
“I choose to turn towards God, trusting in Him instead of my own plans.”
“I work daily on surrendering negative thoughts to Jesus and believing His voice over my successes and failures.”
“I have to trust Jesus’ grace to help me both start and finish something well.”
For me, I spend daily time sifting through the dialogue in my head putting my thoughts and desires into categories. Some are lies, but there is also Truth. The Holy Spirit is good and quick to bring scripture and things I have studied in God’s Word to the forefront of my battle.
Then I choose to let go of the lies and grasp with all I have onto His Truth. It is in those moments that I’m not my own worst enemy anymore.
I am a warrior for my own good.
“These are my daily battles, the enemies, my own self as an enemy, and I fight quietly as I walk through each day.”
Amy Bufkin has loved Jesus for as long as she can remember. Even though she basically lived at her local church growing up, her faith and relationship with The Lord was incredibly shallow until her early twenties. It was then Amy learned how to study her Bible, began to truly commune with God, and her shallow faith began to deepen as she got to know her Lord and Savior. Now her passion is to communicate the same truths that changed her life to young women in as many ways as possible. You can find her on Instagram | Facebook