Isn’t everyone who goes on a missions trip super holy? I’m pretty sure you have to be sin-free since 2013 to even qualify. Maybe I should just not apply because I would rather not have to admit that I was rejected based on my sin.
Are you hesitating to apply for a missions trip because you don’t think you’re good enough? Here are three ways to reshape your fight with sin as you prepare to go on missions:
1. Embrace Jesus rather than shame
In the moments when you’ve realized you’ve sinned, what is your reaction? Do you sink into a state of self-hatred, or do you bring your sin to Jesus? When you feel trapped in repetitive sin and do the same things again and again, it can be hard to discern what is good godly guilt and what is shame. One way to determine the difference is that guilt looks outward at your actions while shame looks inward at your identity. Guilt says, “I did something wrong, but that’s not who I am.” Shame says, “I did something wrong because that’s who I am.”
Shame falls into a destructive cycle. For example you might struggle with lying. When you lie, shame identifies you as a liar which makes it easier to lie because that’s who you are. Embracing the gospel breaks that cycle. The gospel says that when you sin you are returning to your old identity as a sinner. However, now that you’re in Jesus you are a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) which means that sin is no longer your default response when you feel tempted. As a new creation you have God dwelling within you, the Holy Spirit who helps you avoid sin. As a new creation you can also bring your sin to Jesus to find healing, forgiveness, and restoration. You can be made new – your sin doesn’t define you anymore. You can embrace your new identity in Christ, rather than shame.
2. Fight for Jesus rather than yourself
A cycle of shame is when sin causes us to feel shame and our shame causes us to sin. Someone who overeats might feel ashamed after an afternoon of snacking. The reason they’re snacking, though, is because it feels good. So when shame makes them feel bad they do something that makes them feel good, namely snacking. It can be so easy to give up the fight when you are stuck in a cycle of shame. Being beaten down again and again from giving into temptation makes it easy to believe that you will never be free from the power of sin. In those moments, it can be good to know what you’re fighting for. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Are you fighting to be seen as a good and holy person or are you fighting to treasure Jesus above anything else? A desire to be holy is good, but often we fight sin in order to be seen as holy by other people. When you do this you are afraid of the consequences of your sin being revealed rather than feeling remorse about the fact that your sin does not bring honour and glory to God.
Moreover, the struggle with sin itself is proof that the Holy Spirit is working in our life. That’s something to celebrate! This freedom to struggle is explained so well by Tenth Avenue North in their song “The Struggle” where they sing:
“Hallelujah. We are free to struggle.
We’re not struggling to be free.”
3. Confess sin openly rather than hiding in fear of exposure
Confessing sin to our brothers or sisters in Christ brings it out from the darkness and into the light. One way to do this is in an accountability relationship where two friends take turns confessing sins and praying for one another. If there’s a particular sin you struggle with consistently, find someone you can confess to consistently who will show you grace while sharing truth from God’s word to challenge and encourage you.
We can confess because we don’t need to fear exposure – God already knows us completely and sees everything, and still welcomes us back into his family as children. Previously exposure meant that our identity as a sinner would be revealed. Now confession means that we expose rebellious actions while clinging to an identity that is secure in Jesus rather than the opinions of others or even ourselves.
Previously, exposure meant facing the consequences of our sin. Now it shows a dependence on Jesus and a joy that is found only in him. It is so easy to hide in the darkness when we believe lies about who we are. With your security in Jesus, though, it is more rewarding to step into the light.
Knowing you’re ready to go on a missions trip is more about having the right perspective and attitude towards your sin than about not sinning at all. We are all a work in progress, and need God’s grace each day to serve him.
- Embrace Christ as your true identity.
- Fight sin in order to treasure Christ above all things.
- Find someone to regularly confess your sins to, while resting in the security that comes with knowing Christ.
Finally, pray and pray hard. In the midst of the struggles we have a loving Father who joyfully answers prayer. It is only by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit than any lasting change can come about.
Have hope that God can and will use you on a mission trip this year. Apply with faith that God could even use your story of overcoming sin to help someone discover him personally for the first time.
Find out more about our Mission Trips with Power to Change Students.