Escaping the Performance Trap

 He (God) presented Him (Jesus) to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.  Were then is boasting? It is excluded.  By what kind of law?  By one of works? No, on the contrary, by a law of faith.  For we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.  Romans 3:26-28 HCSB (parentheses mine)

Sometime when I still lived in Africa, I underlined these verses and wrote in big block letters to the side, “No guilt.” Why that, next a verse that is talking about the evils of boasting? Because I tend to get tangled in the performance trap – feeling as though I’m never quite doing “enough.”  There I was, a missionary, who knew in my heart that too often I’d rather hide in my house rather than share the gospel with an African.  I knew that instead of loving those hungry little village children, I was too often annoyed with them. I knew all the myriad of inadequacies in my sinful heart.  I fell short.  I was guilty.

And one day, sitting in the heat and reading my Bible, I came upon this verse.  “Don’t boast,” it said.  And the Holy Spirit?  He said something like, “No matter how good of a job you did as a missionary, no matter how many people you lead to Christ, or how many languages you learned, or how many little kids you loved, you’d still fall short.  You’d still have nothing to brag about.  And you’d still be guilty. 

I did the work, not you.

I declared you righteous.  Because you weren’t righteous on your own. And you can’t be. No matter how hard you try.

You can’t do anything to be good enough.

But that’s okay.  Because I’m good enough for you.”

I needed to remember that today.  If I am to be His trophy of grace, I’ve got to remember the grace part.  Certainly, I am unworthy to be a trophy. 

And that’s the point of grace.

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