Natalie had a genuine relationship with Christ and sought to follow Him every day in every area of her life. She knew she wasn’t perfect, and some days she failed more than others, but she always tried her best to please God.
On Monday, Natalie rose early to spend time reading her Bible. She prayed for her friends, confessed her sins, and asked God’s help for her day. She made breakfast for her kids, tossed the laundry in, kissed her husband goodbye for work and began her day with a cheery smile. All day she had a spring in her step, kindness in her voice, and patience with every action she took. She gracefully handled stressful situations, got every to-do item crossed off her list, made dinner for the new neighbors, made some encouraging phone calls to friends, and made time for her kids and her husband while managing to keep the house clean and her errands finished. Before bed, she tucked everyone in with prayers and cuddles, and as she laid her head on her pillow, she smiled as she breathed in the gracious goodness of her loving heavenly Father.
On Tuesday, Natalie hit the snooze button 3 times and woke up barking at the kids for spilling the cheerios. Her husband was in a bad mood, which made her own mood even worse. The whinier the kids were, the faster her temper flared and before dropping off her oldest to school, she had already been arguing with him for most of the morning. She knew she was failing the Lord, but try as she might, she just couldn’t seem to catch up. A rough phone call with her husband about late payments on some bills and Natalie’s toddler began to act out as she felt Natalie’s tension and tone of voice escalate. Natalie slammed down the phone and looked around at her disaster-strewn house and half-naked child. Where was the gracious goodness of God today that she had felt so beautifully yesterday?
We’ve all had days like Natalie’s; maybe you’ve even had similar feelings as Natalie with her sense of “closeness” to God and her sense of “failing” Him.
Ask yourself this, “On which day was God more pleased with Natalie?”.
Was your answer, “Monday”?
Do you ever feel farther from or closer to God based on your own performance?
Do you feel like you fail Him?
How about feeling that heavy weight of, “I’ll just try harder tomorrow…”
Or at least I used to, now I can fight against those sneaky legalistic lies with the truth of the gospel.
The truth is that God was equally pleased with Natalie on both Monday and Tuesday.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul will exalt in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For those who have asked Jesus to be their Lord and Savior, every time God looks at you,
He sees you dressed in righteousness.
He doesn’t see your shame or your failings; He simply sees “Redeemed”, “Beauty”, and “Righteous”.
We couldn’t earn God’s favor to receive salvation,
so what makes us think we can keep God’s pleasure by our good behavior now?
It was God who did the saving in the first place, and it is God who brings about the fruit in our lives as we seek His face with our whole heart. The more we try to “stuff in some good traits”, the more we will become so weary in trying to measure up.
Tired of failing God? Tired of trying harder?
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Spotting legalism in our theology can be tricky stuff, but Jesus had sharp words for it and Paul wrote an entire book on it.
Jesus calls us to more as He reminds us that the work has always been His Own and not ours….for salvation, for sanctification, for glorification.
It’s all Jesus.
The gospel isn’t just for the moment of salvation, it’s for all the moments between now and when we see Christ’s face.
Jesus plus nothing equals everything