Do you ever feel that you’re not doing enough to please God?
I recently asked a group of women how their spiritual life was going. They each frowned and began to recount to me all that they had not been doing. They were each concerned about not praying long enough, not reading the Bible consistently enough, and not doing enough in their overall efforts to please God. I’m sure they all thought they were getting a “C” from God for simply being average…if not an “F” for failing. We live in a performance-based world so we can easily get into that mode, now and then, of thinking we must try harder and do more to make the grade with God. But the truth is, there is nothing we can do to make God love us more than He does already. Romans 5:8 tells us “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” If there was nothing we could do to earn God’s love in the first place, there is nothing we can do to lose that love. On days when we aren’t doing enough, we must remember that Jesus Christ has already done everything that is necessary for us to gain the approval of God. When Christ went to the cross He was treated as if He lived our life, so we can now be treated (by God) as if we lived His!
And so we serve God out of our love for Him for what He already did for us…not out of obligation or a performance-based anxiety or an attempt to earn our way to His heart. We read His Word and talk to Him in prayer (as well as listen to what He wants to say to us, through prayer) because we love Him and want to grow in our relationship with Him.
So how can you know if you are truly growing and maturing spiritually? By asking yourself these two questions:
1. Is my love for God increasing?
2. Is my love for other people increasing?
When a man asked Jesus “Which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” he was basically asking “What is most important to God? How can I earn His favor? How can I live at the ‘top level?'” Jesus’ answer was this: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39).
Are you loving God more every day? That should be our goal. And are you loving people more every day? That should be the tell-tale sign to show us if we are growing in our love for God.
When it comes to striving, or stressing about making the grade with God, give it a rest. Jesus already passed that test for us. Focus your heart, instead, on loving God and loving others because of what God, through His Son, Jesus, has done for you.