Monday, July 13, 2009

Blessed by Faith, not by Effort (part 2 in a series on faith)

(Not so much a series of teachings as much as a series of personal reflections on Bible passages that God has used to stir my heart regarding this important matter of faith amidst the challenges He has led me through. See part 1. Go to part 3.)

Whenever I find myself discouraged by the idea of not being good enough in the eyes of God, I know it means I'm not looking at my life through spiritual eyes. There was a time when God opened my spiritual eyes to see my need for a saviour and to see Jesus as that saviour. But too often I'm prone to going back to using my old earthly eyes as I strive to be good enough to please God.

Galatians 3:3 calls that foolish. "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" Paul then goes on to refer to being people of faith or to living by faith 13 times in the next 23 verses. He also mentions eight times in about as many verses that the great promises God made to Abraham had nothing to do with anything Abraham did to earn them. The message? That the way to please God is not by striving to be good enough, but by believing His Word and by receiving all He has promised us!

Okay, but I find myself thinking that I know all this. It sounds familiar. And yet I still sometimes find myself battling thoughts that I'm not good enough for God, and that I have to measure up to be entitled to His promises. And I can still let myself get discouraged when I make a mistake of even the smallest variety!

Well, according to Paul in Galatians 3, my battle cry in such times should be: Have faith! Faith in God's mercy, faith in what Jesus did on the cross, faith in God's fatherhood, faith in God's promises! And I need to persistently remind myself that the promise of my inheritance in Christ is not based on how well I perform (3:18), but on God's goodness, and received by faith in God (3:22). I ought to shout that out the next time I'm distracted by my own humanity! And as I do, I will be blessed simply because God blesses those who believe.

© 2009 by Ken Peters

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