so much for nothing

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing? Surely it was not in vain, was it?         Galatians 3:1-4

 

Why are we so foolish?

 

Why do we still try, day after day, to earn what’s been given?

 

Why do we still seek value in our accomplishments? Why do we still believe our merit must be proved? Why do we act as if our behavior determines our worth? Why do we often live as if coming in first is the only way to be considered worthy?

 

We say we don’t and yet…don’t we act differently out in front of others than behind closed doors? Are we not intentionally more gracious when people are watching? Can we honestly say that we never speak in certain ways or about particular things as a means of impressing others?

 

Can we actually say that we never seek to impress God? Don’t we often behave in certain ways—even pray in certain ways—wanting to show him we are becoming something he will approve of? Hasn’t he already approved? Didn’t he approve of our worth by sending his only Son to die for us?

 

We have been given God’s Spirit, just for believing. We have been given eternity and immortality, just for believing. God has done all the work. There is nothing for us to do. Thankfully. We couldn’t do it if there was. That’s why he came, that’s why he rescued us—because we couldn’t. And he did it all, there is nothing to earn.

 

Have we believed so much for nothing?

 

If we are trying to become perfect by our own human effort, Paul would say we have. If we are trying to gain worth and value from our performance, Paul would say we have. Have we?

 

I pray we have not. I pray we find freedom in grace. I pray for us today to find joy and hope in the value we can’t earn and none can take away from us. I pray we find the love and mercy and grace of God today. And I pray we simply rest in it.

 

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3 thoughts on “so much for nothing

  1. I’m a little confused here :

    “Don’t we often behave in certain ways—even pray in certain ways—wanting to show him we are becoming something he will approve of?”

    Doesn’t every child seek the approval of his/her father? Isn’t this natural in our relationship? We want to please the ones we love. I did it to my parents and my kids will do it to me.

    ” We have been given eternity and immortality, just for believing. God has done all the work. There is nothing for us to do.”

    I understand that believing is the most important step, but temptation is always there, don’t we need to apply effort to resist it? If we are to follow Jesus teachings, don’t we need to resist our natural human instincts?

    • Costas, Thanks for your questions here. Do we seek the approval of others? Yes, definitely. But I think what I am thinking through here is that our motivation is so easily tainted. We should do the right things (obedience) for our parents, our loved ones, and God out of a desire to express our love for them. Not to gain approval or value. Because we cannot gain approval or value from God by doing good things. We are approved through Christ and valued for being God’s creation, made in his image. Our good deeds don’t gain us approval or value, we already have that through Christ. Our good deeds should be an expression of love for and a response to God.

      When our good deeds are performed to show God how “good” we are or to prove something to him aren’t they then selfishly motivated good deeds? Are they even truly good at that point?

      This is just what I’m thinking through. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do good things or be obedient, we need to be, but out of a desire to please and honor, not to gain approval or value. We are constantly telling our own kids that obeying or disobeying does not change our love for them. We don’t value them based on their actions. Instead we ask them to show us they love us by being obedient and respectful.

      Does this make sense?

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