“For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants you to do.” - Phil 2:13 (TLB)
So often we strive to accomplish that which only the Holy Spirit is capable of achieving in our lives. We do not expect God to entirely deliver us from our fears, doubts, insecurities and carnal appetites. We struggle to overcome the sins that so easily trip us up.
Despite our efforts, we still fall into sin. We try to control these acts of the flesh in vain by quoting scripture, praying vigilantly and watching constantly over our feelings and attitudes. If we do succeed, however, then God gets no glory! We accomplished this change through our own effort; and chances are, it may not last very long.
After about 10 years of trying to please God with my good behavior, I realized that my attempts to gain favor with God resulted from my desire to earn God’s love. I struggled with despair each time I fell short of my goals. I feared that God could not love me with all of my imperfections.
Then I heard a pastor preach from Galatians 3: 1-3. I was shocked to hear him say that we would never be good enough. That if we could perfect ourselves, we would not need Jesus! That if we could save ourselves, His death was unnecessary! He made it clear that this is Paul’s point in both Galatians and Ephesians.
Now, when God points out a particular fault to me, I give it back to Him. I ask Him to do His complete work in my life. Then, I look up Bible verses about the opposite of that behavior and I write them down on recipe cards. I carry them around with me and reread them at every available moment. Eventually, I start to see Godly behavior and the fruit of the Spirit manifesting upon occasions when my human nature used to take control.
I realize now that even my best behavior falls short of God’s mark of perfection. I deserve no less than the fires of hell for even my best behavior. In his mercy, however, and even while I am still a sinner, God gave His life to pay the penalty of my sin. He also gives me His righteousness in exchange for my carnal nature.
Lord God, I wanted to achieve perfection to make You love me. I forgot that when You look at me, You see Jesus; and therefore, You are already well pleased. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
If trying to improve ourselves never gave us spiritual life before Salvation, why do we think that trying to perfect ourselves now will make us stronger Christians?