Our lives in this world are performance-driven. The hunger for acceptance and recognition drives many people. They compete to get ahead and try to earn approval. The need to prove yourself stems from pride. God's Kingdom is the very opposite.
“God opposes the proud,” James wrote, “but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6).
God’s grace is unearned and not based on performance at all. The least is the greatest in His Kingdom. You don’t have to prove yourself to win God’s acceptance and love. You received that the moment when you believed by faith in Jesus Christ.
Do you believe that living a holy life gives you a better standing with God? You don't need to prove yourself to God. He accepts you based on Christ’s merit and not yours. Righteousness is a gift from Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:21). You can earn nothing. The only sin that Jesus rebuked on earth was that of self-righteousness. He never rebuked sinners—only the Scribes and Pharisees. The problem was not that they were doing bad things. They were doing good things but for the wrong reason. They trusted in their own goodness.
Living a holy life is not the same as living a grace-filled life. Look at the Pharisees. You can live a holy life for the wrong reason—to be recognized by man and to try to prove to God that you are good. Holiness does not render grace. Only Jesus gives grace. It is His goodness that proves you are good. You don’t do good things to win God’s approval. You do good things because you know Christ has made you worthy.
No one is good. All of us have fallen short of the glory of God. We can’t expect God to answer our prayers based on our own goodness and how well we have served Him. If we ask God for something because of what we have done, we ask Him to reward our religious performance. And that insults His grace. Doing things to earn God’s grace is promoting ourselves and trying to relate to God based on our best instead of what Jesus has done for us. If we do this, we operate in pride. And pride will never raise anyone up.
“Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6, NKJV).
The only way up in God’s kingdom is down. God exalts. We don’t.
“Humility is not thinking less of ourselves,” C.S. Lewis said. “Humility is thinking of ourselves less.”
Humility is our response to the grace of Jesus. It is not demeaning ourselves. Humility is laying “self” down and recognizing the omnipotent power of God. Humbling yourself is not a one-time thing. You have to deal with “self” for the rest of your life. Everything good you have in your life comes from God. If “self” is on your throne, your goodness becomes your own.
“A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9, NKJV).
When you experience God’s unconditional grace and inherent goodness, it humbles your heart. You know you are unable to direct your own life. You quit struggling to prove your worth. You trust in God’s goodness. You rest in His grace because you have nothing to prove—no acceptance or recognition you need to find. When you seek God’s truth for your life with your whole heart, you believe your worth is found in Christ and that His plan is better for you than anything you could ever imagine (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
© 2022 Lynn Lacher