This week, I will enjoy God’s grace.
Maybe you can’t minister brilliantly every single day. God still loves you!
Why am I serving in ministry? To celebrate God’s love and share it with others? Or am I really working so hard, giving it my all, to gain God’s love? Will God love me less if I fail? if I give less?
It’s a sad syndrome that many of us in Christian ministry are on a “performance treadmill,” striving to stay in God’s good graces — when in fact, God’s grace is a free gift! Paul explained: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works…” (Ephesians 2:8,9). This is hard to swallow. There must be some “hitch”! It can’t just be a free gift.
Why is it difficult to grasp? Because our culture is not based on grace. It’s based on the opposite concept: performance! Society functions on the concept of the trade — you get something in exchange for something else. Smith Barney used to say: “We make our money the old-fashioned way: We earn it.” We teach our kids, if you want something in life, you’re gonna have to earn it. We put charts on the wall and give them little stars or stickers each time they do something good — go potty, clean their room, whatever. From the earliest age, we learn to earn. If you’re gonna succeed, you gotta perform. Life is one enormous trade-off.
And we tend to think of God the same way: “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why, Jesus Claus is coming to town. He’s making a list, checking it twice, gonna find out who’s naughty or nice….”
But the truth is — while it’s honorable to work hard and do my best — I cannot do enough to earn God’s love. There’s nothing I can do to deserve it. I can celebrate his goodness by giving my life to ministry, serving with fervor and committing myself to excellence … but when I have a bad day — when I get fed up with ministry and want to quit — when I lose my cool and rip into a colleague — God doesn’t love me any less.
God doesn’t live by the human system of the trade. God invented a better way … called grace. Sure, I’ll enjoy living by God’s design, serving in the Kingdom. But God’s love for me doesn’t hinge on that. I can get off the performance treadmill. I can enjoy God’s love even on my bad days. I can enjoy serving just for the joy of serving — never again worrying about how much God loves me. God’s grace is a gift!
My Prayer for the Next Seven Days… Lord, sometimes I feel so small, such a failure. And so often, I feel like I need to scramble to please you. Please reassure me of your faithful, unconditional love — even when my best isn’t good enough. Amen.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?… No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.