“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to everyone. It instructs us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives in the present age.”
Last week I asked the question, Does performance matter in the Christian life? My answer was “yes.”
Having said that, it is essential to understand the profound difference between a fallen view of performance and a redeemed view of performance.
- The fallen view of performance is powered by self; the redeemed view is powered by the Spirit.
- The fallen view of performance is driven by ego and image; the redeemed view is driven by grace.
- The fallen view is driven by a desire to please people; the redeemed view is driven by a desire to please God.
- The fallen view seeks to promote self; the redeemed view seeks to serve others.
- The fallen view is driven by fear; the redeemed view is driven by faith.
Jesus commands us to reject the world’s view of performance and calls us to a different way of living and working. In God’s design, our identity is not found in how we perform and what we achieve; rather, it is found in our relationship with Him.
In God’s kingdom, we work and perform and achieve, but we do so because of who we are in Christ. The Lord calls us to work diligently, but not for the purpose of avoiding criticism or gaining approval from people; rather, the Lord calls us to work diligently in service to the one true King.
The great irony is that God is both infinitely more accepting and more demanding than any human audience. He sees our failings and weaknesses, yet still loves us and fully embraces us. There is nothing we can do performance-wise that would cause him to love us more or love us less.
Yet at the same time, the Lord calls us to standards of living and working that are higher than any standard on earth (including social media, sports talk radio, and internet forums). And the Lord constantly evaluates us … not just our behavior, but our innermost thoughts and motives.
“I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.” (Jeremiah 17.10)
Who can withstand such scrutiny? Who can hold up under that kind of relentless, piercing critique? The answer: People who have surrendered to Christ, who are redeemed by the blood of the cross, and who have experienced God’s grace. People who know that they are loved by God and called into relationship with Him, and who also know that God is working in them and through them to accomplish purposes far greater than self.
“Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2.12-13)
The Lord is calling.