It's All About Grace
As God’s image-bearers, who are created to glorify him, it’s easy to think that we have a long to-do list of things to accomplish in order to live the kind of life he desires for us. Surely we must do good things for God in return for all he’s done for us, right?
Wrong! Salvation comes at a cost, but not our own — it was a cost that Jesus paid on our behalf.
God saved us by his grace, so it’s important to note that you don’t have to “do” anything for God. At least, not in the traditional sense that we might think of. God’s not interested in you performing for him; he’s interested in you seeking to give him glory, to be in relationship with him.
Let us tell you a story of two sisters. One sister works herself into a frenzy, making a big dinner for a special guest. She’s too busy to stop and listen as he talks.
Meanwhile, her sister isn’t doing anything to help her — she’s just sitting at the guest’s feet, soaking in every word he’s saying! Doesn’t the guest see that the first sister is doing all the work while her sister just sits there?
But no. The guest — Jesus himself — gently rebukes her. He says to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42, NLT).
The first sister, Martha, was a “doer.” She felt like she had to do something for Jesus. Many of us fall into the same trap, feeling like we somehow need to earn the salvation that was given to us. But we need to be more like the second sister, Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus and basking in his presence. It’s when we’re with him, listening to him, that we discover the life he planned for us.
PRODUCING GOOD FRUIT
So how do we work on not focusing on the “doing” but more on being in God’s presence? How do we work on being in tune with him and his plan for our life, when our tendency is to get caught up in being busy “for” God?
It starts with being in tune with the Holy Spirit. If you grew up in Sunday school, you likely learned the “fruit of the Spirit” song and memorized Galatians 5:22-23 at a young age. That verse provides us with a practical list of the very characteristics that God wishes to instill in us for his glory.
But it’s easy to legalize this verse and think that we have to “do” things in order to “earn” these characteristics, almost as if we were earning a badge in Cub Scouts. But that’s not how it works! When we’re walking with God, being in relationship with him and listening to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, he will produce this fruit in our lives. It’s a result of his hand at work in our lives.
As we seek his face and strive to live the lives he designed for us, the Holy Spirit will help us produce the kind of fruit we need to live significant lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. That’s all the “doing” we need to strive for: to allow him to work within us to produce the fruit that he designed us to produce, as a reflection of his own character. Once again, we see God’s innate design for us to bring him glory — through what he does in us.
POINTS TO PONDER
- Do you find yourself being a Martha or a Mary? Are you a “doer” or someone who sits at Jesus’ feet? If you’re more like Martha, how can you become more like Mary in your relationship with God? If you’re more like Mary, is there anything you need to be on guard against that could cause you to move your focus off of Jesus?
- What fruits of the Spirit do you find easier to practice than others? Ask the Holy Spirit to continue to produce these fruits in your life, for his glory.
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