Objective: To reveal the areas in our lives where we feel unworthy and to find confidence in God’s unconditional love.
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. -John 10:10
You will never be good enough to please God with your very best attempts at righteousness.
To recognize that we cannot please God by our works frees us to serve Him, not out of an effort to gain His approval, but instead, out of the approval that we have already have through Jesus Christ.
Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes.” -Genesis 18:27
Then I said, “It’s all over! I am doomed, for I am a sinful man. I have filthy lips, and I live among a people with filthy lips.” -Isaiah 6:5
When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m too much of a sinner to be around you.” -Luke 5:8
But God had mercy on me so that Christ Jesus could use me as a prime example of his great patience with even the worst sinners. -1 Timothy 1:16
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. -Romans 3:23
The performance trap is when we take on this idea that if we could only be a little bit better we would be fulfilled and secure. It means we also feel a sense of condemnation and guilt when we are not performing well.
Though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could. Indeed, if others have reason for confidence in their own efforts, I have even more! I was circumcised when I was eight days old. I am a pure-blooded citizen of Israel and a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one! I was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law. I was so zealous that I harshly persecuted the church. And as for righteousness, I obeyed the law without fault. -Philippians 3:4-6
How does the performance trap play out in our world today?
A) We attempt to please God by following rules.
B) We start to believe that our worth is based on what we produce and how we perform.
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him. I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. -Philippians 3:7-9
Skuvbalon – rubbish, trash
We can never work our way to please God. We can never stop sinning our way to please God. The only way we can be made right with God is by faith in His Son, Jesus, and that alone.
So, if we are doing great, or if we are not doing so great, that doesn’t determine our standing with God. We don’t need to feel the guilt and the failure; instead, we can feel the acceptance and the love, and we please God out of the strength and the security of knowing that we are right with God through Christ, and that changes everything.
Questions for Small Group Study or Personal Reflection
- Why do we sometimes feel like we need to earn God’s approval?
- Are there areas in your life where you have been trying to make yourself feel more acceptable to God? What are they?
- We have been set free from having to earn God’s love. How does this give you confidence for your daily life?
- In your personal time this week read Galatians 2:17-21 and ask God to give you confidence through His unconditional love.