Day 3 of 4 • This day’s reading



God, let me see what is holding me back and help me understand how it is damaging my life and my relationships with others… but especially with you. 


What Is Holding You Back?

- Andy Stanley

If we do what we’ve always been doing, we’re going to get the same results year after year. There’s a way to have a better year, but it will require a bit of honest and awkward evaluation. It will require some honest contemplation and even some honest and awkward transparency. If you want this year to be better than last year, consider this question: What are you holding onto that is holding you back?

What are you holding onto that, if you’re honest, has a hold on you? What is weighing you down because you refuse to let it go? Maybe it’s something you initially thought would make your life better, but it has actually made your life more complicated. What is slowing you down because you just won’t put it down? What are you dragging around because you won’t acknowledge it and let it go? What are you feeling the most compelled to keep hidden? What are you holding onto that is keeping you trapped?

The problem with being mastered by anything is that when we follow Jesus, we already have a Master. And whatever you’re holding onto is influencing and controlling your life instead of Jesus. It is degrading your life and causing you to experience things you never wanted to experience. What started off as a pastime has become a pathway, and now it’s very difficult to let it go and walk away. It has mastered you.

The apostle Paul wrote a long letter to the Romans addressing this dynamic. He says in Romans 6:16, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourself to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or slaves to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” Any behavior that undermines you or the ones around you is sin—something you shouldn’t do—because sin leads to death. 

Sin kills, but obedience to God makes things right. Paul is inviting us into a brand-new way of thinking about everything, a new way of seeing yourself and others. This is a new way of seeing God and understanding forgiveness that centers on the very simple, compelling, terrifying idea that we, because of what God has done for us, are to do for others instead of for ourselves. When obedience, instead of sin, becomes your driving force, anything that is not good for you or others becomes off-limits.

Last year may have been filled with sin that enslaved you. This year can be better because of obedience. Obedience to God frees you; it doesn’t enslave you.


Being honest with yourself and others about what enslaves you will free you to be obedient to God. Consider what you have allowed to master you and confess it to God and others, as needed. Allow God to forgive you and help you become more obedient to him.