Most of my life I’ve had trouble being good. Being good takes a lot of work, and I don’t much like work. If something didn’t come easy for me, often times, I just wouldn’t do it. I wasn’t good enough. Anyone else ever felt that way?
I would look at good people, and would want to be good, but fear of failure would prevent me from trying. So mediocre became the norm for me. If you have to work to earn people’s favor (such as teachers, or pretty much any authority figure), then count me out! I didn’t figure I could ever live up to their standards.
At age 33, I decided to start living for The Lord. I wanted to be a good Christian so I went to church, did whatever they asked of me, ritualistically read my bible, set aside time to pray, joined bible studies; you name it, I did it! None of those things are bad, mind you, but doing those things doesn’t make one a good Christian either!
I was working really hard to earn God’s favor. I thought if I was good enough, all things would go my way. Hear me now, that’s bull crap! And when things didn’t go my way? It had to be God’s fault! Because I was doing everything right! What’s the point in doing all this good stuff if it gets you nowhere.
Then I realized a few things. There’s no way I could ever work hard enough to earn God’s favor. I could work harder at being a good Christian, but that won’t get me into Heaven. And lastly, I realized that I was doing good things, not because I loved, and wanted to be closer to God, but because I was trying to manipulate Him into thinking I was good; and because I was good, I deserved everything I asked for. Also bull crap!
Truth is, none of us DESERVE anything. God gives to us because He is gracious and merciful, and He just happens to love us. There’s no way anyone can earn God’s favor, we’re already the apple of His eye! Being closer to God isn’t about being good, or working harder. It’s about loving Him, and doing good things out of love for Him; not because you HAVE to.
Thankfully, God loves us NO MATTER WHAT! He even loves those who don’t love Him. It’s hard to get out of the mindset that we have to earn God’s favor, but I’ll tell you this…it’s a whole lot easier to be good when you know that getting into Heaven doesn’t depend on our “goodness”!
Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing. Ephesians 2:7-10