If you are a worker bee like me, you probably find great satisfaction in accomplishing tasks. Some part of my mind finds worth and value in my productivity, and my days are filled with goals to be accomplished. Some are mundane like laundry or chores. Others have more impact like mentoring or counseling. Whatever my task, I feel most valuable and significant when I’m doing something.
Confession: sometimes, that idea translates to my faith. There are times that I feel more valuable to God because I’m doing something for Him like serving at church, or coaching someone in ministry, or leading a bible study. When I’m busy doing good things that honor God, I’m tempted to believe that He loves me more than when I’m not, as if my activity earns or prevents His acceptance of me.
Thankfully, the apostle Paul wrote a letter to a group of people who grappled with the same issue, and he clearly refuted the idea that Christians can work hard enough or be good enough to earn God’s approval.
“Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by keeping the law? Of course not, for the Holy Spirit came upon you only after you believed the message you heard about Christ. Have you lost your senses? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?” Galatians 3: 2-3 NLT
In this Thanksgiving week, I’m reminded of how thankful I should be in light of what God has done for me. The 10 Commandments….the Laws of Leviticus….the commands in Scripture to be pure, holy, and blameless….well, I could never, ever live a life of perfect obedience! I mess up. Daily. Paul taught that Christ came to free us from the prison of guilt and shame from the sins we commit. Our failure to perfectly obey the Law reveals how desperately we needed a Savior who could provide another way for us! Just as importantly, Paul taught that no human effort earns God’s favor….only belief in His son does.
So, the next time I lose my senses and confuse my activity and God’s favor, I’ll remember Galatians chapter 3. My human effort cannot make me worthy in God’s eyes. Even my best efforts fall short of His standards. Yet, I’ve been made worthy because of the sacrifice of Jesus. Worthy. Loved. Accepted. Forgiven. Valuable.
I can’t comprehend His love….His pursuit of mankind…His desire to be my friend….but I’m oh, so thankful. Nothing I do (or fail to do) can change His love for me!