Got that checklist out? Do you want to be a better Christian?
Then this is something you need to read!
I admit it. I am a list person. I make lists all the time. I love checking things off that list, so much so that I add things on it that I have done just so I can check them off!!
My Christian checklist caused me pain, grief and lack of joy. But boy did I have one! I am what some refer to as a “performance based” person. My identity used to totally be wrapped up in what I did. I never uttered the words..”Look at me and what I am doing!” But trust me when I say it was there. I wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone, including the Father. Unfortunately, I thought the only way to attain this love was from the things I did “for” God. And I had to keep all those rules! Can you say, legalism?
It worked for a while. I was on the praise team, taught Sunday School, homeschooled my kids, volunteered at a Pregnancy Center and Christian radio station, led Bible studies, helped friends as much as possible….on and on. Impressive huh? What a good Christian I was, you could see it! But then I crashed. I had no joy, no peace and I was worn to a frazzle. I simply could not earn His love and make Him proud.
I knew something was not right, and through my attendance of a yearly Praise Gathering, volunteering at the radio station and a mentor…I began a word study on LOVE. Every verse in the Bible with the word LOVE in it was written in a notebook. I began to see the truth. There was nothing I could do or would have to do to earn God’s love. It was called grace. My “have to do” items eventually became “get to do” items, and only the ones that I know Christ was calling me to do!
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” Romans 3:21-26
Jesus did it all. We literally have to do nothing more after we accept the gift of salvation. Now don’t misunderstand, there will be fruit. But we must be surrendered to Him and allowing Him to lead us and work through us.
Paul tells us, “You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one more thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing-if it really was for nothing?” Galatians 3:1-4
We cannot add nor take anything away from the love that the Father has for us. We cannot read our Bible more, pray more or set more spiritual goals. Paul tells us that we cannot attain our goals by human effort. What we do in our own accord is simply rubbish. We must understand that it is through His righteousness and not ours.
These same ideas were addressed in the gospels as Jesus walked this earth. Those Pharisees added so much law to folks to attain their Christianity. And Jesus let them know many times that what they “did” wasn’t what HE was about. As Paul said again… “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” Galatians 2:21
I love this quote from Beth Moore, a great Bible teacher…“Legalism more than any other, that one little word is probably responsible for causing more churches to die, more servants to quit, and more denominations to split. Like a leech, legalism saps the lifeblood out of its victim. It enters the door in the name of righteousness to vacuum out all the dirt and ends up vacuuming out all the spirit. Don’t confuse legalism with recognition and pursuit of Godly standards.”
We cannot confuse legalism, performance based acceptance with our desire to pursue a deeper relationship with God! Of course I desire more time with Him, more time with His word, in prayer, doing for others. But why do I pursue these things? If I miss something, I miss it. I can REST in His grace and go on to the next day. I missed my 6am Bible study yet another day. Do I give up and believe the lies of the enemy that I am worthless and cannot do anything? NO. Shake it off and try again.
Now I was brought into the truth about 20 years ago. I have lived in freedom until recently. I began to “perform” again, and it almost killed me. I will share that story next time. Until then…..
IN CHRIST ALONE