Have you ever had one of those days (or seasons) where you put every ounce of your time and energy into a relationship, education opportunity, career, or dream, & it still doesn’t workout? Or conversely, those moments when you feel like you lack direction and motivation because you don’t have a clear purpose?
Yeah, me too.
The world tells us that in order to “be somebody”, we must succeed in the things that we pursue. We are told that we need to get married, have children, advance in our careers, travel the world, & boost our reputation as quickly as possible if we want to be known. There isn’t room for failure. If you don’t achieve the things that you (or other people) want to do, you aren’t trying hard enough. You are lazy. You are inadequate.
It’s frustrating. It’s crippling. It can bring forth deep sorrow and despair in our hearts.
We are inadequate. We aren’t worthy of time or attention. We aren’t enough. Or at least that is what it feels like.
One of the biggest tendencies is to try to perform for God. I know that he loves me and cares about me, but sometimes I begin to believe the lie that he would love me more if I did certain things.
“If only you would have studied a little longer, then you could have done better on that test.”
“You would be a better daughter, sister, fiancé, & friend if you did ________.”
“You have to workout and not completely let yourself go so when you’re older people will still love you.”
“You would be better at fighting your sin if you were actually a good Christian.”
“You’re room is a mess; why aren’t you more organized?”
“You spent 3 hours watching Netflix. That’s not a productive way to use your time.”
“If you went on _________ mission trip or joined __________ ministry or moved to Africa God would love you more.”
“If something isn’t as close to perfect as possible, you aren’t trying hard enough.”
“You’ve made so many mistakes in the past; what were you thinking?”
“You’ve already made mistakes today…will you never learn?”
“Why are you so emotional?”
“Why do you still struggle with _________?”
When these types of thoughts come into my mind, lately I have been asking this simple yet profound question: Is the gospel enough for me?
Does it require me to work for approval and acceptance?
Does it shame and condemn me?
Is there room for error?
Does it break it’s promises?
Does it give me permission to rest?
Is it enough to save me?
I know deep down in my heart that the gospel is the only thing that will always be enough for me. It is the only thing that will completely satisfy my longing heart here on earth, no matter how hard I strive for the things of this world to make me whole.
Enough is never enough. Our own efforts to achieve what we think is “enough” in our lives will always fall short.
The gospel doesn’t require me to earn God’s love or favor. I don’t have to put on a show for God to accept me for who I am. He adopted me and accepted me into his family. His approval is the only approval that matters. He knows and sees everything in my heart and still loves me.
There is no condemnation for those who believe in Jesus; Jesus sacrificed his body so that every ounce of our sin could be paid for. His blood covers every bit of guilt and shame. His word corrects us to protect us.
There is always room for error in our relationship with God because every human being is fallen and imperfect. God saves us because we can’t save ourselves.
God doesn’t just give us permission to rest, he commands it. If the God of the universe set out time to rest, how much more do we need rest to recharge our bodies, minds, souls, and spirit?
The gospel is always enough to save.”It is by grace that we have been saved through faith-and this is not from yourselves; it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8*
How tempting it is to try and busy ourselves with tasks and responsibilities that we believe will somehow enhance our salvation!? I’ve been reading through the book of Galatians lately and this passage put a dagger through my heart. God exposed one of my most frequent (yet most socially excerptible) sins with shining light. Galatians 3:1-6 reads,
“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like learn just one thing from: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh? Have you experienced so much in vain-if it really was in vain? So again I ask, does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard?” *
It hit me: Every time I worry about my reputation, refuse to rest so that I can be “productive”, seek the approval of other people, and pursue a life of perfectionism, I am not trusting in Christ’s finished work on the cross.
Saved by grace. Redeemed by the blood of lamb. Name written in the book of life. Righteous child of God. None of these things had to do with my own efforts, & I would be foolish to pretend that my attempts to make much of myself have any influence on my salvation.
Have faith, confess, repent, believe…..come as you are, ask God to change your heart, & rest in his eternal presence & peace. That’s it. That’s the gospel. No more striving. No more guilt. No more shame. No more inadequacy. No more lack of purpose. No greater satisfaction.
The gospel is superior to all- our own efforts to “clean ourselves up”, the idols in our hearts that never truly satisfy, our inability to live a perfect life, the approval of other people, a happy marriage, successful career, good health, a loving family…as great as some of these things are, they will never compare to an eternal inheritance and relationship with Jesus. Everything else dulls in comparison to the glory of Jesus.
*1. “BibleGateway.” New International Version (NIV) – Version Information – BibleGateway.com. Holy Bible, 2017. Web. 13 Feb. 2017.