Putting the 4 Handles Into Practice

Sarah Howard

Sarah Howard

Have any of you tried to work all this Gospel Thinking stuff out in a real life arena yet? It’s life-changing stuff! But it’s also really hard-to-work-through stuff. I’ve been wrestling with what it looks like to let the Gospel into my thoughts and emotions in the area of my friendships. I’ve found that relationships and being ‘wanted’ are a huge part of how I define myself, where I find my identity. I’ve also found that there’s A LOT of ‘False Gospel Thinking’ going on in this head of mine when it comes to friendships, what people think of me, and where I choose to find my value.


For example, take this past sermon about God’s Hesed. Hesed is God’s eternal, loving devotion towards His people to always do good to them. That’s not really the schema that I have in my head when I wake up in the morning. I tend to more follow the ‘False Gospel Thinking’ pattern of thinking:

  • ‘Who am I? Who is God?’: My answer usually is that I’m a person who’s insecure in and unsure of my worth.
  • ‘What’s wrong with my world?’: I usually feel that I live in a competitive world where it feels like people are valued and wanted based on their performance, and I really feel like I need people’s approval to be ok with myself. 
  • ‘What need to be done to fix my world?’: I need to perform well enough: I need to dress in style, portray a sense of security and confidence in myself, have a beautiful house, be funny, parent my children the way everyone else does, be skinny, and on and on and on. 
  • ‘What will my world look like when it’s all ‘right?’’: My desire is that I’ll be loved and wanted and basically worshipped by all people. 

Pretty sick, right? In the end, I want the world to revolved around me. But Gospel Thinking is so opposite of how I naturally tend to think. My Creation Story (the answer to ‘Who is God? Who am I?’) when I’m tuned into the Gospel doesn’t start with me and leave God out of the picture anymore. It starts with God: it’s that I’m loved by Him. Loved deeply. Loved eternally. That He’s devoted to lovingly doing good to me. So guess what that ‘doing good’ translates into? I’m wanted. I’m seen. I’m known. I’m approved of. I’m treated by God the way Jesus deserves to be treated: as the precious and beloved only child of God. 

When that first question, the Creation Story question, is answered in the context of the Gospel and God’s Hesed, all the other questions that follow (what’s wrong with my world, what’s the fix, what will it look like when it’s right) are going to be answered completely differently, due to the shift in my Creation Story. I haven’t really figured out yet what that looks like, but I do know one thing: His love is settling and life-altering. When the Gospel starts to infiltrate my thinking and my believing, my whole world and mission in life are radically altered. The end result isn’t that I’m pushing to be worshipped anymore. Instead it’s that God will be worshipped. 

Anyways, that’s one way I’ve tried to process all of this. How about you? Have you tried working out these handles for ‘Gospel Thinking’ in any of your own real life areas?