Lifted Book Study | Week 1, Chapter 1

“Before you make any decisions, I want you to ask yourself one question: Am I doing this (or not doing this) because of fear, obligation, or guilt? If the answer is yes, then make a different decision.” 

We don’t have cable television in our house, and we don’t often listen to the radio. Netflix and iTunes make it easy for me to watch what I want, when I want these days, which means I don’t hear a lot of commercials anymore. But while I was traveling this past summer, I came across a television commercial for one of those emergency buttons. You know the ones with the terrified little old lady on the floor crying out, “Help! I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” Those commercials have been around since I was a kid, but I don’t remember them being as dramatic or as intentionally fear-inducing as the version I saw this summer. The announcer’s deep voice convincingly assured viewers that certain death loomed near for those who didn’t have the emergency call button.

I’m sure that commercial helps bring in sales every time it airs, because nothing motivates humans quite like fear. Fear drives so many of our decisions and actions. Again and again, in the Bible, God tells us not to fear, and maybe the reason for the repetition is because He knows fear often motivates us in the wrong ways.

The thing is, we don’t always recognize that fear is driving our decisions. It is so easy to go along through life, doing the same things we’ve always done—and adding more to our plates—because of fear. And self-imposed obligation. And mounds of guilt. We don’t want to disappoint others. We worry about having enough and being enough. We may fear failure or other people’s judgement or rejection.

So we keep adding more and more to our to-do lists until we feel completely overwhelmed and stressed out! In Chapter 1 of Lifted, Lindsey puts it this way: “For so many years, my freedom and joy were buried under the weight of those three little words: fear, obligation, and guilt.”

Can you relate? Think about the decisions you’ve made in the past week:

  • Did you say yes to anything you really wanted to say no to?
  • Did you say no to something you really wanted to say yes to?

As you think about your answer or the things you maybe have agreed to (or denied yourself) because of fear, obligation, or guilt, your initial reaction may be that there was no other choice; you “had to” make that decision. That may be true. But that reaction could also be a response to fear tightening its grip on you.

The point of today’s study isn’t for you to make huge, radical changes right this minute. The point is to simply begin to recognize how and when fear, obligation, or guilt influence your decisions.

Remember John 10:10: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Fear steals our joy. It destroys our freedom by locking us into obligations. Guilt kills our peace.

Jesus came to give us abundant life—a life filled with joy, peace, and love.

Today’s Reflection

What might an “abundant” life look like? We invite you to share your thoughts below in the comments.