"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me." - Galatians 2:20

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Friday, February 1, 2013


Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV 1984)  "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. "

The only way I knew to be liked or loved growing up was to excell at EVERYTHING . . . and this I did.  

I failed to comprehend a love greater than: 110lbs., 4.0 GPA, All-League Softball, NHS,  ASB Pres. . . . blah, blah, blah!   It was all an external cover-up for an internal fall-out.  Grace was a girl's name, not the condition of my Christian life and salvation.

Living in the performance cage negatively influenced my walk with God.  I put stock in my resume of righteousness, keeping a mental tally of why 'Hester is an A+ Christian.'  This bondage pushed me to try and prove myself to God.  I whipped out my resume of qualifications to convince Him why He should love me or want me.  I kept people at arms length so they could never see my heart.  My view of others was skewed because of the corrupt lens I looked through.

Through tragic loss, I fell flat on my face before God.  And . . . I fell hard.  I began to accurately see myself and others in view of who God is.  In time God tenderly removed the seed of perfection and replaced it with the salve of His grace.  Accepting and truly living in His love reduced my resume to ashes.  Every broken piece of my unfulfilled heart bear the scars of divine intervention.  

Our culture praises performance.  Schools and colleges grade assignments accordingly.  Athletics and the Arts celebrate advancements.  Corporate accomplishments elevate pay,  position and power, with another notch to add to the resume.  Rewards motivate.  These kudos fuel our nature to prove ourselves.  It's not necessarily bad to want to do our best or improve.  The problem comes when the performance mindset transfers into our relationship with God.  There is no other place where performance doesn't pay off.  

The core truth for Christianity is comprehending that we cannot ever earn our salvation.  If we could somehow gain acceptance and salvation through our own righteousness then Christ's sacrifice was not necessary.  It is by faith we receive the righteousness of God through the 'performance' that happened on the cross.

Resume righteousness will never make us righteous, only Redeemer righteousness makes us righteous.  

When we accept Christ we exchange:
  • our filth for His forgiveness
  • our garbage for His grace
  • our refuse for His redemption
  • our sin for His salvation.
The verse from Ephesians clarifies we are saved by grace through faith.  Salvation has nothing to do with the works we have done or do.  Otherwise, we might boast of our virtue and wave our resume of righteous living to show that we deserve approval.  

This faulty thinking causes us to assume we can somehow earn God's favor.  When we operate under this presupposition we fail to understand the depth of our depravity and need for Christ's sacrifice.  This erroneous thinking also deludes our motivation for serving the Lord.  What should be born out of gratitude and love results in duty driven living compelled by obligation and score-keeping.  When we focus on what we do and how good we think we are, we lose focus of the cross.

Keeping an accurate perspective of why we do good things is vital.  We don't do good things to get saved, we do them because we are saved!  We come to Christ empty handed.  He in turn fills us, so our hands can be used for Him, not for ourselves.  Our motivation changes from performance driven to Kingdom driven.    

Even though we live in an achievement driven culture we must resist our tendency to prove ourselves to God.  Maintaining a constant awareness of our continual need for Christ's grace enables our hearts to not be elevated to a place of misplaced security.  Praise God no resume is needed with Him.

Heart Work:

Ask God to help you get past the idea of needing to prove yourself to Him.  Admit you are nothing without Him and confess how desperately you need Him.

Pick two verses from below to memorize this week.

Heart Exam:
How do you try to prove your worth to God?  

Do you accurately understand what it means to be saved by grace?  Are you keeping score of your good works?

How does perfection, performance and pleasing others affect your relationship with God?

Heart Transforming 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."

2 Corinthians 5:21  "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

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."

Ephesians 2:10  "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." 

Titus 3:7  "Having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life."

Copyright 2010 by Hester Christensen.  Edited 2013.  All rights reserved.


  1. "An external cover-up for an internal fall-out" stopped me in my tracks.

    Performance based faith is really no faith at all because it points back to "me"-- my accomplishments, etc. I didn't realize how deeply my faith was steeped in performance until I did the study "In My Father's House" by Mary Kaisson, which revealed how we can unknowingly relate to our heavenly Father as we do/did our earthly ones. I jumped through hoops of approval my entire life for my dad. How freeing it was to drop the performance hoops and embrace unconditional grace. Thank You Jesus! (And thank you, Hester!)

    Wow...I needed to be reminded of that study...and the truths I learned...so many years ago. God bless you sweet friend.

    1. Cathy,

      Thank you so much for your comment this morning. And, I really appreciate you sharing about that study - I have never heard of it, but you've got me interested. I'll have to look it up.

      So thankful to hear how God brought you through the performance trap -- Freedom indeed sister!

      God bless your weekend,
      Love, Hester ;)

  2. Love it, Hester. Studied the second chapter of Galatians this week, so one of your memory verses leapt out at me. Isn't it a relief that we don't need to 'achieve' anything for Him to love us... or save us? Thanks!

    1. Kirsten,

      Thanks for your comment. It is a huge relief indeed! Such freedom when people can embrace this truth. ;)

      Much Love, Hester ;)

  3. My favorite part: "What should be born out of gratitude and love results in duty driven living compelled by obligation and score-keeping." As always, I love how open you are - Thanks for all the raw sharing that you do. It is true courage.

    1. Stacey,

      I so appreciate your comment and feedback. It's so good to hear from you. Thank you for taking the time to share with me.

      Every time I think of sharing 'part of my story' and I question myself, it's usually due to what I think 'people will think of me' -- which takes me back to performance based living. So, in an effort to break free from this I want to offer the hope and grace of Christ to others. ;) -- I need only be concerned of what He thinks of me, right? :)

      Love you Stacey,
      So thankful to know you,

      And, I pray for the opportunity to minister to your women in S.P.
      Love you, Hester ;)

  4. Oh, dear Hester...Many Saturday mornings I feel lost on the direction I want my time with the Lord to look like, so this morning I decided that I wanted to share coffee with my friend Hester. I lit my candle, started the fireplace, grabbed my blanket, bible and cup of coffee...and pulled up Hester's Heart on my lap top. Thank you my friend for blessing me with your words. I loved especially loved, "I put stock in my resume of righteousness" and the bondage we live because of this. I remember one of the first things I thought of when I was diagnosed with cancer, "What good am I going to be to God?" After all, I was sick and knew that by doing chemotherapy, I was going to be getting sicker. God in His graciousness taught me a beautiful lesson during that journey--I don't have to "DO" anything...just "BEing" with Him is enough. Thank you for being authentic and sharing your words--I needed this today.
    PS. Coffee was good--better if you were actually here to share! Can't wait for that day!

    1. Kim,

      Bless you sweet friend for your words of love and encouragement to me today. I appreciate you sharing your journey with me in what God taught you through cancer. Sometimes it's easy to forget that we are human 'beings' not human 'doers' ;). Learning to "Be" is difficult but also necessary in our walk with the Lord.

      God bless your weekend Kim,
      Love, Hester ;)
      ps. hope to meet you too some day. ;)

  5. Hester,
    I think if I met you in person I would think that you are one of the sweetest women I know. May our great God bless you as you continue to share your story and the love He offers daily. ~ Love from Maine, Amy

    1. Oh Amy,

      You are so sweet to say that to me; thank you dear. ;) I must confess, I have often thought the same of you.

      Thank you for your encouragement to me.

      Much Love, Hester ;)

  6. Excellent post! Several years ago, I realized its not about me, but about Jesus. What a stress relieving truth! I just finished watching your Who let the Dog out video... I miss hearing you teach! love you Hester!

    1. Lisa,

      Thank you so much for your comment today. ;) I appreciate your feedback and encouragement very much.

      Love, Hester ;)