One of my favorite authors, A.W. Tozer, set for himself what he called “holy affirmations.” These were agreements he made for himself that significantly enhanced his Christian walk.
He shared his own personal agreements, not to tell everyone to do the exact same, but to get you started on thinking of and crafting your own as needed specifically for you. Here are his:
- Determine before God never to own anything. He did not mean here to literally have zero possessions. He lived by the principle that anything you are not willing to give up actually owns you. So to own nothing meant to be detached from all things, even if they are in your possession. “Take everything and say that God has it. Do not imagine for a minute that if you give God 10 percent, you are okay and can keep the remaining 90 percent. God must have 100 percent…If there is anything that you own that God cannot have, you cannot have God. God has a right to command whatever He wants the moment He wants it.”
- Never defend myself. This is a tough one, particularly for Americans, Tozer said. To let God defend you. But I am telling you from my own personal experience, that it is the better way to go. There’s been a few times in which I was thought to have said or did something I simply did not say or do. Instead of defending myself, which usually ends up making you look guiltier than before anyway, I took it to God, gave it to Him, and trusted Him to defend me. And you know what? He did. This one time I’m thinking of, for instance, someone contacted me the day after accusing me of saying something pretty awful, and apologized, for he remembered that it was in fact not me who said it. Thank you, Lord! That went way better than trying to argue my case.
- Never defame a fellow Christian. How important is this one?? To set a fence up against the toxic territory of gossip and slander of any kind against our brothers and sisters. “By this, I mean never believe evil about him or speak an evil report about him. Remember your past and your own tendency to give in to temptation. I think sometimes the Spirit of God shuts Himself up tight and cannot come upon us because we have defamed a brother or sister Christian. Such an evil report becomes a weapon in the devil’s hand.”
- Never receive or accept any glory. Oh how we love glory and getting credit. I love how Dallas Willard would advocate praying for the success of others, even those you don’t particularly like. And the spiritual discipline of secrecy–doing good that no one could possibly know about, and then not telling anyone! Just between you and Papa Yahweh. Kind of the opposite of Michael Scott for those of you who have ever watched “The Office.” There was an episode where he was talking about how he’d like to someday donate anonymously the money to build a hospital, and how we would plan to stand by the “Funded Anonymously” sign and tell passersby, “Hey, you know who did that? Me. I funded that.”