This week–I missed a few days of Bible study and had to cram to catch up on my reading plan, my prayer life has been inconsistent, I was too hard on a student, I wasn’t hard enough on another, I went to lunch with a friend and hardly even spoke a word about the Lord, I spent too much time playing video games and not enough in prayer and Bible study, I was late to an appointment, I double booked myself and had to ask my wife to cover for me on an appointment because of my lack of planning, I passed up an opportunity to share the gospel, I shared the gospel with a friend but wasn’t bold enough, I passed up on opportunities to serve my wife, and I have been astounded by the grace of God.
3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain- if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith- 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham (Galatians 3:4-7).
Trying to live for Christ on the basis of performance is as exhausting as it is futile. Despite the fact that I claim to love the gospel and to have been saved by grace through faith and not by works (Eph. 2:8-9), I continually find myself trying to live for Christ on the basis of my own performance. I need Paul’s rebuke to the Galatians because though I think I understand the gospel, I show how little I really do by my own attempts at spiritual growth by good works.
Attempting to grow in Christ by works is not only exhausting, it is impossible, because no matter how hard we try, we will probably come up with a list like the one I wrote above. Furthermore, when we attempt to grow in sanctification by works, we show our own lack of understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
2 Timothy 1:8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
My list is my list and I spent some time this morning praying to God to help me deal with it, but if I take my list as evidence that I am failing in my walk with Christ, I have missed the gospel because I have tried to make it about works. My salvation was accomplished by the power of God and is the gift of God and my growth must be by His grace as well. If you are a Christian, knowing that your position is in Christ by grace and not by works will free you from the despair of trying to measure up to almighty God (which you will never be able to do!).
Let God deal with your list, but if you have believed on Christ as Lord, remember you are in Him (Eph. 2:5-6) by grace and by that same grace He will lead you home. If you do, I firmly believe this precious truth will give you joy in the fight (2 Tim 4:6-8).