I remember a lunch I had about this time last year with my dad, my brother and my niece. During the course of the conversation, my niece had mentioned she had volleyballs tryouts for her high school team, a team she had been on for the previous 3 years. It surprised me that she had to try out because she has been on the team for 3 years, 2 years as a starter. But then I remembered back to all my years playing soccer. Every season, 50 or so guys would gather onto the field and go through the routine of try outs, knowing that there were really only 1 -2 spots open. The rest of us were secure in the knowledge that we would be on the team because we had been before. But there was always that little lingering doubt. That question of am I good enough?
This is something that we all do. Even if you have never played sports, you have had to be in a situation where you were made to question whether or not your abilities and achievements would measure up to someone else’s. The most common case of this would be a job interview. You have all your skills and qualifications laid out there on your resume and you look around and see others that might have the same skill level. You ask, am I good enough to get this.
When we do this in our daily lives or with worldly things, it just causes us some minor inconveniences and difficulties. Maybe a little extra stress. But what happens when we do this with in our spiritual walk? What happens when our mindset goes to the attitude I am worried that when I get to meet Jesus, I will not have done enough, or been good enough since I became a Christian to make Him happy with me?
Do not get defensive when I ask you this, because you are actually in pretty good company when it comes to questioning yourself in front of Jesus. The man who wrote ¾ of the New Testament felt this same way. Paul in Romans clearly shows us he is aware he is living in a manner which God did not want him to live. I think they are so important to understand that doubting our resume before God has been going on since Jesus walked the earth.
For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing.
Doesn’t this sound familiar to many of us and isn’t it one of the main reasons why we worry that we are not good enough Christians to receive the eternal life that is offered? We scream out “I know I am doing wrong, I can’t stop doing it wrong, and I don’t get why God would ever accept me”.
Every one of us needs to keep in mind, the same Christ who met with Mary at the empty tomb and released her burden of grief, the same Christ who met with Peter by the Sea of Galilee and released his burden of guilt, the same Christ who met with a Christians hating man named Saul on the road to Damascus and release him from his burden of condemnation wants to meet with you and me today and release us from all our burdens.
The problem is, so many of us who have met Christ and know God’s grace still worry about whether we have done enough to enable us to stand before Christ in heaven. The burden which Christ lifted off us when we first met Him, we have placed back on ourselves.
How did we move from the place where we experienced salvation by grace to the place where we worry whether our works are good enough?
I want to answer this question with another question… Why are you doing what you are doing in your Christian life? Are you doing it to make sure your place in heaven and in the book of life is doubly secure? Or are you allowing Christ to do His work through you?
It is His work or your work you are involved with?
Being a Christian is not simply a case of God does everything and we sit back and let Him. It is also not a case of us living in fear that we have not done enough. Jesus does not want us to have the burden of thinking that our work keeps us from eternal life with Him. He also does not want us to think that we do not have anything to in our Christian lives.
When Christ tells us to “take up my yoke” in Matthew 11, He is not saying do work for God. He is saying we should be allowing God to do His work in and through our lives. There is a big difference here. If we are just doing work for God, then we are doing it out of an obligation to God, as some type of payment for what He has done for us. But if we are allowing Him to work through us, then we are acknowledging that no payment can ever be enough for all He has done for us, and we ae giving our lives completely and totally over to Him.
We like to take the “all I have to do is” attitude when approaching things like this. But in fact, it is much harder and takes much greater effort on our part. Our society teaches us that if we want anything in life, we must work hard and go out and get it. As Christians, we have to pull back from this mentality and realize that we can no longer live like this in our relationship with God. Instead of going into situations thinking “how can I witness in this situation”, we need to just allow Christ to guide us and reveal Himself to us.
We must abandon the notion that we are not doing enough for Christ, because it is never enough. God’s grace is the sole and only factor. And once we are under God’s grace, it is Christ who works through us that should be doing everything afterwards.
We do not need to be carrying the burden of worrying if we have done enough or are good enough. We need simply rest in God’s grace and move in the will of Christ.
The same man who wrote that he did things he knew were wrong and that God was against also wrote this
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
If Paul, one of the biggest contributors to our faith and the bible, can see we are not good enough to come to God alone, why can’t we accept this? Why do we continue to try to push on through this barrier of “I can keep working a little more to make God love me a little more?”