Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast. "
In preparation for She Speaks, the speakers and writers conference I attended the end of July, I was busy putting together my first book proposal. Publishers are in the business of publishing books that will meet the needs of readers and make them money. An author's job is to sell the book idea to the publisher. There are some specific items to research and cover in a book proposal. In addition to submitting two to three written chapters, some other items include the book details, description, chapter outlines, the market audience, the marketing plan for the book, other publishing credits, and an author bio.
Another vital section of a book proposal is called the competitive and comparative analysis. This is where the author researches the market to know what is already out there that is similar yet different to what they are trying to write. They find five to seven books similar to theirs and write up an analysis explaining how their book has a different spin. Understanding the competition gives the aspired author direction in writing their book. This helps them to write something more than what is already out there by offering different take away value for the reader.
When I met with the two acquisition editors representing two publishing houses, I had to lay out the goods and show them why my book needs to be in the hands of readers. I did my research and knew the comparative competition. But, I also knew how my book would offer something the others didn't.
Having to defend the validity of my book to these publishers got me thinking on a deeper level. How many times have I come to God and tried to prove myself to him? How many times have I whipped out my resume of qualifications in order to convince Him He should love me or want me on His team? "Pick me. Pick me." This kind of faulty thinking can cause us to assume we can somehow earn God's favor. When we operate under this presupposition our motivation for serving is born out of duty. Serving no longer comes from a heart of gratitude and love but rather one of obligation and score-keeping. When we focus on what we do and how good we are it's easy to lose focus on what Jesus did for us on the cross.
Our verse from Ephesians clarifies we are saved by grace through faith. It has nothing to do with us. It has nothing to do with the works we have done. Otherwise, we might boast of how good we think we are. We might wave our resume of good living before Him to show Him why He needs us. No, no. If we could earn acceptance and salvation through right living then Christ's sacrifice was not necessary.
Our efforts to earn God's approval takes us back to the Old Covenant Law keeping. Individuals had to routinely adhere to the strictest of rules in order to be acceptable before God. Christ came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). The Law was insufficient for salvation. If we could obtain salvation through the Law then Christ's sacrifice was unnecessary. The Law revealed our sin and our desperate need for a Savior. Christians are no longer under the Law. We are under His grace which is an undeserved gift of His love and mercy.
No resume is needed when we come to Christ. Praise God we don't have to lay out a competitive comparative analysis of what we have to offer Him and why we are worthy enough. Our worth and value come from Him, not from what we do. We don't need to justify ourselves. We can't. God accepts us as we are for He knows we need Him. The real question is, Do we know we need Him? Do we acknowledge there is nothing we can do to earn His approval? Are we willing to accept God's gift of salvation? Are we ready to live under His grace?
After we come to Christ our service to His kingdom should be born from a heart of gratitude. The natural overflow of our hearts should be to love and serve Him. We don't do good things to get saved, we do them because we are saved! "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:10
Although I was unable to convince two publishers of the validity of my book, I remain confident that publishing a book is in my future. I am encouraged and thankful for God's unconditional love and endless grace. Praise God no resume is needed with Him.
Ask God to help you get past the idea of needing to prove your worth and value to Him. Admit you are nothing without Him and confess how desperately you need Him.
How am I trying to prove my worth to God? Do I accurately understand what it means to be saved by grace? Am I keeping score on my good works?
Heart Changing Word:
Romans 6:14 "For sin should not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace."
Romans 11:6 "And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace."
Galatians 2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
Ephesians 2:4b-5 "God who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved."
Titus 3:7 "Having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."
Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen. All rights reserved.