“…After starting your new lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort? Have you experienced so much for nothing?…Abraham believed God and God counted him righteous because of his faith.”
Moving brings out the Pharisee in me. I have not figured out how I fit into this new place yet, I am building first impressions, and so I throw myself into things, desperate to prove myself, even when there’s nothing to prove.
I’m on edge in every conversation. I anxiously look around and compare every detail to see if I’m keeping up, measuring up, meeting expectations. I want to impress, but I’m not impressive and it’s hard to ask a whole new group of people to extend the grace I need.
Righteous isn’t a word I use a whole lot in my every-day English, so I looked up the Greek word used for “righteous” in this verse in Galatians to try to get a better sense of its meaning. The definition I found hit home: “approved of.”
How I long to be approved of.
I echo the crowd who asked Jesus for an assignment:
“We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?” (John 6:28)
I need His answer just as much as they did:
Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (John 6:29 )
Always, always it comes back to this: I am counted righteous only and ever because I put my trust in Jesus Christ. I am approved of because, like Abraham, I believe God’s words. It is never because of my work or effort or performance, diligent as they may be.
So easily my eyes shift to what I’ve invested, how hard I’ve worked. Always I am asking, “Is it enough? Can I rest yet?”
Always He answers, “I am enough. You can rest in that.”
So much pressure I carry around to accomplish something big and important because I represent the Lord. But I forget that it is HE who chooses to represent me.
Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.
I have a Savior who has finished the work of placing me in good standing. And He does not require me to improve on what He has accomplished. I am approved of in Him.
I read these words from Emily P. Freeman’s book Simply Tuesday this week and they caught within me:
“…stand on tiptoe and see…beyond what is to what could be.
And this doesn’t mean I am to dream big and amazing things for God. Rather, it means I am to believe in a big and amazing God, period. I can trust him to be himself even as I dare to be myself.
He is big and important and able and so I do not have to carry the pressure of making sure his plans go off without a hitch, or ensuring that I become all I am meant to be. I am all I am meant to be in Him, and it is enough to just follow.
Take my worries. Help me to leave them in your hands awhile.
Help me choose to just to believe you, and then do whatever the next thing is out of freedom, not out of fear. That is the work you ask of me.
Teach me to savor and hold on tight to the assurance that you approve of me. You call me righteous; not lacking, not disappointing, not inadequate, not a failure.
I need not make an idol of my issues by giving all my attention to them. They present no obstacle to you.
It does not honor you to strive tirelessly. It only shows I do not believe your words.
Lord, teach me what it is to be still and believe in a God who does not need my help and yet invites me on a journey to see what He can do through one willing to take him at his word.
Show me how to walk into this new season with the confidence of one who has been approved of, able to extend and accept grace, at ease with myself and with others, and leaving behind the tireless question of whether I have done enough.
Because your work is enough, and I can rest in that.