"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.