There's this circular system of growth when it comes to being a disciple of Christ. There are two primary aspects to Christianity: Action, and Heart.
Action is what you do. Action is paying your tithing, going to church, being nice to your neighbor and reading your bible. It's all of the doing, the following of the rules. It's obedience, sexual purity, the expression of love. It's all about you, your choices, and how you behave.
The Heart isn't that at all. The heart is our motives, our feelings, our thoughts. It's our inner selves. It's the part that truly loves, that truly believes, and it's the part of us that God wants the most.
Now, when I first started following Christ, I started the way everyone else did - changing my behavior. I learned the rules God gave us (I read Proverbs and Corinthians like 8 times through). I learned to obey. But after a while... I realized I was missing something.
When they talk about the Pharisees in the New Testament, they're following the rules. They obeyed every law of Moses. Yet Christ called them hypocrites, fakes... and I realized I was just like the Pharisees.
I followed the law. But I didn't feel anything. I acted loving to my neighbors, but I felt no love. I worshiped God because I was supposed to, not because of an overwhelming need to. I had all the action right.
I had none of the Heart.
Now, there is NOTHING wrong with action. Proper action is where it all starts. If we love God, we keep his commandments. If we follow Christ, we walk as he walked. There's a passage in John 15:9-11. It says that if we keep Christ's commandments, we abide in his love.
But the problem I ran into was what do I do once I got there? I'd gotten so focused on making myself a better disciple, on doing this myself... that I'd actually left God out of the equation. I became self-centered in my pursuit of perfect Christian behavior.
I needed to return my focus to God. To let Him change me. To let Christ remake me. I needed some remodeling done on my Heart, and I couldn't do it.
So that's what I'm working on now... on not doing it. On letting go of my self-improvement, and just focusing on God and letting him do his thing.
What does focusing on God mean?
It means prayer, meditation, praise and honest thanksgiving. It means in every moment of every day thinking about who He is, what He's done, and what He wants from us. It means being still, silencing yourself, and listening to him. It means practicing spiritual disciplines. It means letting go. It means stop thinking about you, about what you can be doing differently... and just giving all of your attention to Christ.
Moving away from the action is hard. And it doesn't mean you stop going to Church, stop serving others. It just means the focus needs to move from what you're doing, to what God is doing. He'll take care of remaking your Heart into one that's loving and Christian.
You just need to let him.