Do We Have It All Wrong?

Gwen Smith Blog, Christian Living, Confession, Faith, Grace, Life Clutter, Priorities 38 Comments

I once listened to a talk on the foundations of contemporary discipleship given by scholar and apologist Ravi Zacharias. Toward the end of his lecture, Ravi spoke of a conversation he had with a former Muslim who had become a Christian. The gentleman humbly explained to Mr. Zacharias that there is a compelling contrast between the way he was taught as a Muslim to view faith and the way he sees faith being perceived in the lives of many Christians.

He drew a circle and a small dot inside the circle.

After this, he drew another circle and a small dot in the other circle.

Then he told Ravi that since he’d become a Christian, what he sees is that the circle of the Christian seems to be his life, and the dot is his faith. The contrast is that when he was a Muslim, he was taught that the circle was to be his faith and the dot his life.

Zacharias asked him what he thought about the contrast.

Essentially, the former Muslim’s response to Ravi was this, “As Christians we’ve got it all wrong. We’ve got it all wrong! God should be first. The circle. Everything else should be the dot.”

I heard this story and a hush fell over my heart.


I felt as if I’ve been found out.

Because I often perceive life as being all about ME.

Me. Me. Me.

Questions rise in my mind. Do I really worship God above all else? Am I designed and created to live for Him or for me? Do I center my life around the One who gives life – or do I simply “include” Him among the many small dots?

The fire of conviction warms me. Bends my knees. I know the answer to these questions. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:30)

Yes… this.

I breathe in His deep grace and, once again, am thankful that the kindness of the Lord leads me to repentance and recalibrates my heart to His. He refocuses my mind and redirects my soul toward what really matters.

And I pray the words of the old hymn penned by Adelaide A. Pollard:

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after Thy will,
While I am waiting, yielded and still.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Search me and try me, Master, today!
Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
As in Thy presence humbly I bow.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
Power, all power, surely is Thine!
Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.

Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
Christ only, always, living in me.

Dear Lord,
You are the circle. I am the dot. Forgive me for the times – the many, many times – when I invert this. Let me be found in You – in adoration of You, led by Your Spirit, washed in Your grace. Help me live for You today.
In Jesus’ name,



Don’t gloss over this message. Consider where you really are with this. Reflect. Repent if needed. Respond to God in prayer. Go deep with Him. And be honest. God can handle your honesty. I’d love to hear what’s on your heart with all of this. CLICK HERE to visit my blog and leave a comment. Let’s take the conversation deeper and encourage one another.

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As always, thanks for opening your inbox and your heart to me. I cherish and love you!!

Warmly in Christ,



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Comments 38

  1. Sure, the Word is true..most of times I put my God as a Dot that ts me who need praises all the time not me..I now start to be soo tiny that He can be higher

  2. First id like to say “good post, good article”, next is Ravi Z is fantastic and ive been listening to him for years. But i am sure mainstream christianity does have it wrong, but a lot of people i know have it right. Even still, knowing what god will do and when he’ll do it is a mystery.

  3. Gwen:
    Many times we have it backwards as you said. We I was younger sitting as a layperson in our church I had my pastor explain it like this. As we grow we reach a point where Jesus is all the center on the throne in our hearts and He begins to clean our hearts as we grow and we put Him first showing how we can decease and He can increase. It takes a lifetime of mistakes and studying God’s Word to grow. We never stop learning from Him but we can come to a point where we do as Paul said die daily to Christ and He is the circle and we are the dot. I love my Lord and still find many times when I need ask Him for forgiveness and let Him on the throne. But He is always there and supports through all I go through good or bad.

  4. Amen!

    I think JFK said he could compartmentalize his religion from his role as President. I never understood that. You are a Christian or you are not, in all aspects of your life…The only true Joy in life is achieved when we make God first and love him with all our hearts, mind and soul; then accept His love and are able to love ourselves. Then we will be able to live our lives loving our neighbors as ourselves. When we realize that Jesus on the Cross, said “It is done” we were told we were forgiven. All we need do is ask for that forgiveness when we mess up and we have a clean slate to start again. If the human race would embrace that truth, our world would bring heaven down to earth!

  5. I somehow felt confined by the dot – or really, that I had confined God in the circle. I wanted my dot to grow expedentially as I grew in God. But then, really, it was still about me. Then in my mind the circle expanded like a balloon until it popped. And that was God.

  6. I read a great book by Dr. Larry Crabb that speaks of the way in which we need to put God as the first-thing in our life! It’s called, “Soul Talk. I highly, highly recommend it! I pray that we put God in the center of our lives- as our First-Thing Desire! Amen
    Thank YOU Jesus!

    “8 Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
    9 Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him, talk ye of all his wondrous works.
    10 Glory ye in his holy name: let the heart of them rejoice that seek the Lord.
    11 Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his face continually.”
    ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:8-11‬ ‭(KJV‬‬)

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  7. Gwen,
    Isn’t this reflective of the fact that the majority of Americans claim Christianity but the majority of our actions deny Him. I say that not in judgement, but in humility and with sadness.

    The cry of my ❤️ let everyone see HIM in me. At all times: in rush hour traffic, when someone cuts me in carline, when my insurance goes up just in time for Christmas, when my adult child relapses. If my circle is HIM I’m buffered, protected. He blesses us in all ways, even for our commanded obedience! What an amazing God we can make uor everything.

  8. This really hit home because I am. The circle and God is the dot and that made me feel sad and ashamed. There is nothing more that I want than to reflect God’s light from me but to often I find my self distracted or deceived by this world. But I don’t and won’t give up.

  9. This is very convicting!
    ‘Filled with thy spirit
    Til all shall see,
    Christ only always
    Living in me’
    Christ only!
    Christ always!
    Every morning this should be my mantra!
    From this day forward it will be.
    Read your devotions daily. Always on target with what I need that day.

  10. God been trying to convict me with my taxes. I’be been self employed and a single mom for 15 yrs and never got child support. So in my mind why would I claim everything. I need security, I work 16 hrs mostly everyday 5 days a week to take care of us. Then I got married and told my husband my poor excuse, he understands my situation. But now I want to give it all to God and be clean, no secrets, no lie. I want to obey him. Asking God to take away anything that is not pleasing to him. Asking everyone to pray for me

  11. This nailed me this morning. In my minds eye I sadly picture the dot that is my faith in God shoved in with so many other dots that represent my identity compete for attention ( career, wife, mother, grammie, daughter, mentor, volunteer, friend). No wonder I’m exhausted. We were never meant to live this way. If I shift my view and God is the Big Circle, the dots inside will take their appropriate place and attention.

    Going forward for an Audience of One today! He is the circle. Me and mine are the dots.

    Thank you for this word this morning. 😊💕

  12. For nearly 4 months, I’ve agonized with God over a daughter-in-law. She has been holding against me an unforgiving spirit and has shut me out. For 3 months, I had no idea what was wrong and I tried to be faithful and kind. Now that I know what’s wrong, it’s not even legitimate-she knows the truth but would rather continue with her behavior. During this time, I feel smaller than a dot in a circle. I know she needs Christ, but in the mean time, she is deeply hurting our family. Please pray that I’ll learn the lessons God is trying to teach me and remain faithful-
    May He increase and me decrease!❤️ I enjoy your devotions so much.🙏🏻

  13. Hi Gwen I look forward to reading your devotions each morning. However,this morning message re the circle versus the dot really spoke to me. What a blessing and change we would see in our lives if we gave God full control of our lives and allow His life to shine through us.

  14. Hi Gwen,

    This devotion really pricked me to the heart, I was running on fumes yesterday and I really did not want to serve my family. Cook, clean comfort I had it. So I complain to God all evening as to why no one is serving me for a change. To make it sound spiritual I quote part of the scripture “…As unto the Lord” LOL!! But really I was a complainer only thinking of myself because lets face it “Its exhausting serving others especially your family all the time”. This devotion reminded me that it is all about God and for God, so once I keep a God perspective and God Centered then it is all worth it. Today I repent for thinking just for a moment that it was about me.

    Thank Gwen

  15. This is so true! I have felt this for a long time! My husband and I have finally found a church that also preaches this. & is reaching out to our community! Yay Gwen! Well said. Thank you.

  16. I love this article because I thought I was worshipping all this time but this open mind my eyes and my heart and to humble myself in the presence of the Almighty God I repented openly and u love that song, bless your heart.

  17. Wow!! This is an eye opening matter. We do get so caught up in our own selfishness and forget about God and others. In this day and time as well as the seasons we Truly need to stop and listen to the voice of The Almighty God. If not we’ll get swept away by the enemy. And this isn’t good. What I read from Pastor Rick Warren is to begin to thank God for 10 things each day and you’ll come to see things differently. And during this season put others before yourself. I told myself I’m going to do this year round. Be Blessed everyone

  18. Thank so much for your encouragement every morning. It helps me get me thru my day. Yes this message was needed this morning as I forget Who is in control. Not I Lord but Thou.
    God Bless you for your time that you take to encourage others.

  19. Oh so needed trying to decide where I am to service I want to do one thing and impatient waiting on God’s direction same message is not what I want to do please pray I will hear God loud and clear for the direction

  20. The challenge….. Increasing and keeping God bigger than any other thing, yet still trying to get everything done. Seems obvious…….keep God as ‘the’ priority. Time-wise, tho, how does everything get done?

  21. I find myself in that very place where the world robs me from the place which only God belongs and where the distractions just don’t stop. Last night, I felt overwhelmed by what needs to be done this week do to a life group on Sunday and with chiropractor appointments and our children just wanting me. My husband was tired and wanting to talk and our children fighting over silly things. It leaves me frustrated and wanting to get out of the house.
    No fault to them but overload for mom.
    I want less of me and more of Him but it’s hard I must say and a challenge.
    I know when I’m not getting that time with Him, everything around me suffers even mama.

  22. I am more of the person that puts others needs, wants, feelings, etc. before my own. Yet, in my life I still see where I am the circle and my faith is the dot. I am on a journey moving towards God and what I can do for Him and to His glory! I want to be the faithful servant doing His will as I will give up my will for His!

  23. Gwen can you explain why is it so hard to forgive yourself from pasted sin I’m A Catholic and went to confession but very hard for me …

  24. I can honeslty say it always about me n my wants n needs I have prayed for the past year or more to have faith in god n to hear him talk to me n listen to what he asks of me need lots prayer want to change. love myself to be happy Im 64 n feel i have never been happy with my self

  25. Gwen:
    This explanation is exactly right, (The dot and the circle), i have been touch by the Holy Spirit, and this gives me a better way to explain how we as a people have fell away from what Jesus told the disciples in Acts 2, we should be a people of God and devoted to his (Jesus’) teachings! in Acts 2 it’s explained that we should tell people about the Gospel, and become as on group (Community) of people that loves each other, and all have the same on the earth as is common, and it say’s that if any of you that find Jesus and accept him that are Rich, to sell all you have and join the common in this community, so all can have the same on the earth. that’s what he means to love one another as we do ourselves. (I’ve got to where i want to say, more than we do ourselves).
    i don’t see how we are obedient to him when most lives for the things of the flesh and are more concernd for themselves and what they can do in this world. i feel this is not what Jesus wants us to do, this is how the selfishness of people causes them to be decieved, by satan, but if we all belong to each other as well as in Jesus as one, one want have anymore than another in the flesh, but we all will be doing what He wants, we will only have time to work for one another and take care of the elderly and the ones that needs caring for over all the commuity, there will be no selfishness, from not even one! we will all do our part because we are in Jesus.
    it says in the Bible that we should Do on the earth as it is in Heaven, meaning as if Jesus is here in Person, and we are being obedient to him!
    In Acts 2, on that day there were 3 thousand souls saved and followed the ways (Examples) Jesus set for us!

  26. For almost a year now my focus has been so clouded by so many things. Work, health and well being of my son and grandchild and so many other things. I find myself praying only about these things and at times I began to pray and the words won’t come. My heart is so heavy that I find it hard to do the things in which God has called me to do. I so want this heavy burden lifted and I pray that it will and I am able to look back and see what God was showing me that I find so hard to see right now

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      Keep praying, Tracy. Prayer leads us to God’s presence… to His feet. Remember to take time for adoration and contemplation of HIS goodness. Those moments will inform and strengthen your heart. Praying for you now, friend.


  27. Perfect timing for this message, Gwen! Black Friday & Cyber Monday have been the focus of our lives. Needing and wanting a few things this year (which is unusual); I have been rather absorbed by the deals and the many emails. So….DEEP breath; clear mind, close eyes, adjust attitude…and, re-adjust my mindset to where it should, and is meant, to be. Seek forgiveness for any distance I’ve allowed to grow between my Lord and me. Crawl back unto His mighty lap…a fav ‘envisioning’ I do…and plead for mercy once again. Yes! Thank, you, Gwen, for the much needed reminder and redirection. Blessings.

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  28. I loved the analogy of the circle and the dot! It put true meaning to this life and what we are to focus on. Oh, that He would be who we fix our eyes on this Christmas season and throughout the year. May He be the reason for our next step, next plan, and next decision. He will increase in our lives as we put Him first and everything else will pale in comparison to HIM.

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