The scenario is often similar. I begin the day with checklist in hand. My list usually spells out enough tasks for two or three days, but I'm confident I can complete them in a single 24-hour period. From routine weekly chores to the projects that require immediate attention, there's plenty to keep me busy. At the end of the day, I glance at my checklist and evaluate how I did. Checkmarks validate my success. An uncompleted task pushes my toward failure.
Then I see it. Subconsciously, I've slipped into a familiar pattern. Once again I'm measuring myself based on performance. It's all too easy to shift into a mindset that requires a certain amount of work to be done in order to be validated. That's human nature at its best. If I DO x, y, and z, surely I'll be accepted and counted worthy. But there's a better way.
It's spelled, G-R-A-C-E. The dictionary defines grace as divine love and protection bestowed freely upon mankind. Sound familiar? The Apostle Paul writes of God's gift of grace freely extended to all mankind, "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9; KJV). Before I was saved, I could do nothing to earn my salvation. After all, "...God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). So why should I think that after salvation, I have to maintain favor with God through performance? Once again, grace comes to the rescue.
Living by grace takes the burden off of me to perform. As I humble myself in the presence of a holy God, I realize I can't live the Christian life in my own strength. But as I submit myself to His will, I can accomplish anything I face through His strength. The Psalms attest to the strength found in the Lord. "It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect" (Psalms 18:32). "Unto thee, O my strength, will I sing: for God is my defence, and the God of my mercy" (Psalms 59:17). And again in Psalms 71, the author acknowledges the strength of God, "I will go in the strength of the Lord God: I will make mention of thy righteousness, even of thine only" (Psalms 71:16).
Grace living. Shifting the focus from a need to perform, to a desire to submit. Taking the emphasis off of self and placing it on the One who is worthy of all praise, the Lord Jesus Christ. It's the age-old struggle between pride and humility. Do I find my sense of self-worth in my own accomplishments? Or do I base my self-worth on who I am in Christ? Only grace living frees me to be all that God created me to be. Only then can I accomplish what He has called me to do!
What about you? Do you find yourself performing or living by grace? Choose to humble yourself today and go in the strength of the Lord your God! "Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up" (James 4:10).
Prayer: Heavenly Father, Thank You for reminding me of Your love. I cannot do anything that will make You love me more, nor can I do anything that will make You love me less. Help me to submit to Your will that I might be able to live by grace through Your strength. Amen.