Grace Trumps Performance
One day, last week, I posted an excerpt from my first book, which gave a brief account of how the Lord opened my eyes to how performance-driven my nature is and how it negatively affects my “feeling” of acceptance with God. In that post, I mentioned how the Lord had used a book by Jerry Bridges to help me see this about myself. The past few weeks, I’ve been reading Jerry’s latest, Who Am I?, and was helped again—along the exact same theme—and pass it on to you. Who Am I? is an excellent, concise treatment of our identity in Christ. In a section of the chapter entitled, “I Am Not Yet Perfect,” Bridges provides this sound counsel.
[O]ur daily struggle against sin continually drives us to measure our acceptance before God on the basis of our performance. On a good day we may get out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off and have a refreshing quiet time. Events of the day generally fall out the right way and we encounter no significant sin issues. A bad day is just the opposite. We oversleep, skip our quiet time, muddle through a difficult day, and struggle all day long with sinful thoughts (resentment, envy, frustration, lust, etc.). On which of those days would you be more expectant of God’s blessing or answers to prayer? Your answer to that question reveals whether you are living by your works, or by the gospel.
Our default setting is to live by our works. But let me repeat a statement that I made to a group of college students some twenty years ago that is still valid and speaks to the good day and bad day scenarios: Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.
Every day of our lives should be a day of relating to God on the basis of his grace alone, for every day of our lives we are not yet perfect. Someday we will be. Someday each of us will go to be with the Lord (if He does not return first), and at that time we will join the spirits of “the righteous made perfect” (Hebrews 12:23).