by Andrew Gilmore
Deep down inside I never thought I was good enough.
Not good enough for my parents, for my teachers, for my wife, my kids. Not good enough for God. I’ve spent years of my life trying to earn favor with people. Trying to be awesome so that they would love me. I work tirelessly on projects, trying to perfect them so there’s no possible room left for critique.
One day not too long ago I perceived the Spirit tell me, “Andrew. It’s true. You’re not good enough. And you never will be. That’s why I’m here. And you know what? I love you anyway.”
I could do nothing but sob.
I needed those words badly. Intellectually I could have told you that was true, but emotionally I’m not sure I believed it. And I still struggle with trying to be perfect. But here are three verses that have helped paint a clearer picture for me.
1. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Whether you admit it or not, you have weaknesses. These weaknesses point you to God. They make you realize you need something outside of yourself—and that something is God. Relying on Him requires faith, which is exactly what He wants from you.
2. “No one is good—except God alone.” Mark 10:18b
No matter how hard you work, how disciplined you are, no mater how often you pray or read the Bible, there is no one good but God alone. That may sound dark or depressing, but really it should be freeing. You don’t have to try to earn God’s favor by being good; that’s impossible. Instead admit that you, just like everyone else, inherited the sin nature from Adam, and you need God’s grace for salvation.
3. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48
Wait, I thought we just established you can’t be perfect?
Jesus here is riffing off of Mosaic law. Several times in the book of Leviticus, God says to Israel, “Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2 for one). He says this in the context of the Old Covenant—the giant list of shalls and shall nots.
But Israel was very bad at keeping the law.
Jesus, on the other hand, made this statement in the context of love. You see what He did there? By referencing the Old Covenant, Jesus reminded Israel that they were lousy at keeping the law. So He showed them a new way, one of love and forgiveness. Isn’t that the gospel in its most basic form?
True, only God is good, so anything good that comes from you is of God. Your aim then, is not to be good but to be more like God. When you accept Christ, the Spirit will dwell within you and begin transforming your heart.
Grace, simply put, is unmerited favor. The sooner you accept that the better.
Andrew Gilmore is the author of Do No Work, a book that helps Christians beat stress and draw closer to God by applying the Sabbath to their lives. He writes every other Tuesday on his website, AndrewGilmore.net.