Sunday, September 15, 2013

How Good Is Good Enough?

There are many who believe that their good will eventually outweigh  their bad, and because of that they will be accepted by God and allowed into His heaven (or whatever else they might think comes after this life). Their basis of acceptance is them basically being good people, and as long as they continue to be good people then their chances are pretty good for them to experience a favorable afterlife. The basic problem here is, who determines how good is good enough?

There are so many different standards out there, and what if the one any person chooses to follow isn’t the right one, or what if they happen to die on the wrong day when the scale is tipped in the other direction, or if they die sooner than they had expected basing their hopes upon doing their own thing now and good later when they have more time? What happens then? This is such a risky way to live. And if you do live that way, do you really want to be around a God that would leave all of this stuff up for grabs? This was part of the message at a recent memorial service for a friend who didn’t leave this stuff up for grabs.

The reason she didn’t leave stuff up for grabs was not that she was a super-wonderful, extra-good person, though we thought very highly of her. No, it was because she placed her trust in a God who did not leave all of those questions about eternity up for grabs. You see, her salvation and her assurance was not based upon her good works (which she did plenty of as you listen to the people she impacted in her life), but rather it was based upon her receiving a gift from God to do what she could not do for herself.

The problem for every single one of us is that we are not perfect. We’ve all messed up, blown it, rebelled (sinned) in many ways and many times. Yet God hasn’t. He has never failed in any way. This leaves quite a gap between us—His perfection and our dismal imperfection. His scale of good is absolute and ours is absolutely flawed. So, in answer to this His perfect and flawless Son—God Himself from the beginning—Jesus Christ willingly gave up His life to pay the price for our failings. And He didn’t remain in the grave like a brave soldier or first responder of some type who might have given his or her life to save others. No, the Bible tells us, and history supports it, that He rose from the dead on the third day demonstrating His power to lay down His life and to take it up again. With Him taking up His own life He also offered to all who believe in Him both the forgiveness of sins and a newness of life that lasts for eternity.

And just as this new life is given as a gift free to us, but bought at a high price by Him, so also He gives us the ability to live in the same way—by faith and not by works. This does not mean that we go and do anything we please because we’ve been forgiven, but rather because of His great love shown to us we return ourselves as ones bought with the price of His blood as faithful servants who live to please Him (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Doing good works is important, not because our eternity is dependent upon them, but because it is the only reasonable thing for us to do as children adopted by the living God (Romans 12:1-2).

In this there is great freedom—freedom from a performance driven life. We don’t have to work to please God. God is pleased when we spend time with Him, when we worship Him, and when we in faith step out in service to Him because of the love which He has shown to us and which abides in us (Romans 5:1-7; Titus 3:3-8). Take time and get to know Him. Take time to rest in his presence. Take time to listen to His voice and to hide His Word in your hearts, and then go through your day giving everything back to Him knowing that His love never fails.

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:1–7, NASB95)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8–9, NASB95)

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB95)

(If you have questions about today’s posting I would love to talk with you more, and also give you a gift of a little, but powerful book, titled, “How Good Is Good Enough?” Just message me and let’s take it from there.)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (9/15)

Rest in Me, My child. This time devoted to Me is meant to be peaceful, not stressful. You don’t have to perform in order to receive My Love. I have boundless, unconditional Love for you. How it grieves Me to see My children working for Love: trying harder and harder, yet never feeling good enough to be loved.

Be careful that your devotion to Me does not become another form of works. I want you to come into My Presence joyfully and confidently. You have nothing to fear, for you wear My own righteousness. Gaze into My eyes, and you will see no condemnation, only Love an delight in the one I see. Be blessed as My Face shines radiantly upon you, giving you Peace,

“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13, NASB95)

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NASB95)

“The Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you peace.’” (Numbers 6:25–26, NASB95)

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