I lived the majority of my life not really understanding the difference between grace and works. Maybe it was because I was younger and my brain wasn’t fully developed (and maybe my brain takes longer than most people’s to connect the dots), but I had a hard time grasping the difference between “works” (serving God) and “faith” (salvation which is freely given).
It was difficult for me not to feel “extra good” when things were going well. My thoughts were along the lines of, “Look at how obedient I am. God must be extra happy with me and I’m going to be blessed!”
The same was true, though, when I was in the valley and I found myself praying “Why do I always do what I don’t want to do and not do what I want to do?” I’d think all I need is a little more self-control and then I’ll be “good” again. During those times I’d automatically feel as though God hated me, was mad at me, and was ready to punish me.
I wish I could sit here and tell you what caused the shift for me, but I can’t. I think it was more gradual and then finally, one day, without my realizing it, it all clicked into place. I stopped striving to “do” for God and started enjoying just “being” with God. I gave up.
Instead of striving and pushing myself and creating impossible rules to follow, and then even more rules when I failed to successfully complete the first set of rules, I started to do things because I wanted to please Him. I think I finally understood how much He loves me, really loves me, and when someone loves you despite how many mistakes you continually make, and you can feel that love in your heart as well as know it in your head, it changes you.
It was then I started doing things for God because I wanted to please Him. Not because I wanted Him to love me more, but because of how much I loved Him. That mind shift changed everything. There was freedom in how I served God because I wasn’t doing it to follow some imaginary rule. I was doing it as a gift, an offering, a way of saying “thank You” for what He’s done for me.
There’s freedom in that mind shift. Now when I serve God and it goes well, I know He doesn’t love me anymore than He did that morning. And when I fail (and I still do, often!) I have the freedom to give myself grace and try again the next day.
Where do you fall on the imaginary line of “do” versus “be?”
© Cheri Swalwell 2020
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What comes to my mind in part is found in ROMANS 12:3 [NKJV]
For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.