Striving and Trying for God

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.

Gal. 3:2 NLT

Performance orientation is attempting to earn God’s acceptance and love by our trying, striving, and laboring.

We suffer great exertion and struggle tremendously in our Christian walk. We long to live by the precepts of the Christian life. On a good day, our attitude and actions suggest some degree of Christian commitment. We think by our performance that God is obligated to bless us and reward us for walking according to his standards. We think of ourselves as “good little boys and girls” and that good things always happen to good people.  On our good days, we walk in self-righteous pride, and on our bad days, we plod along in discouragement and despair.

We have reverted back to living under the Law, we think we earn the blessing of the Holy Spirit by our performance. We think we deserve God’s rejection by our failures. We become frustrated with the Christian life, the up’s and down’s, the elation and the despair.

We have forgotten grace. We have forgotten that the Christian life is a person and that Jesus’ work on the Cross performed all we would ever need to be accepted by God. We have forgotten that Christ perfectly lived the law and died in our place that we might be accepted by God. We have forgotten that the Christian life is lived by faith trusting every day that Christ’s Cross has taken all our failed performances and nailed them to a tree.

We must remember that we are not accepted before God based on our performance, but we are accepted because of Christ’s beautiful performance on the Cross. We don’t perform the Christian life to be loved by God. We perform for God because know that we are loved and accepted in Christ.

We can begin each day with the deeply encouraging realization, I’m accepted by God, not on the basis of my personal performance, but on the basis of the infinitely perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ.”

Jerry Bridges, Holiness Day-by-Day (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2008), 6.