It began almost as fear. The kind of fear you feel when you only have one attempt, one shot, one chance to get it all right—or else. If you didn’t, well, it is over for you. You can kiss it all goodbye. If you didn’t do it right the first time, why in the world would you get another chance to try again?
But that logic is not the gospel, is it? It doesn’t describe how our God works at all.
I remember as a little girl thinking that if I messed up once, God would forgive me. If I messed up a second time, He would think about it and get back to me. I knew God was all about second chances, but was He a God who gave out third and fourth (and fifth and sixth) chances, too?
With this mindset, I knew I was ruined. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect, no matter how hard I prayed that God would make me without sin, there was no way out of this predicament. I was done for. I was so caught up in doing everything right that I had lost sight of why I believed in Jesus and followed Him in the first place. I had taken my eyes from the cross and was absorbed in myself.
Matthew 7:24-25 relates the story of the wise man who built his house on the rock and the foolish man who built his house upon the sand. What made the wise man “wise” was how he listened to the Lord’s teaching and went out and obeyed. What made the foolish man a “fool” was his unwillingness to obey after hearing the teaching.
When I reflected on my heart attitude towards always doing the right thing, I found that my purpose in accomplishing perfection was rooted in selfishness and pride. Even though I seemed to be building my house upon the rock through good deeds, I was actually building my house on sinking sand.
Being not merely a hearer of the Word—but a hearer and a doer—boils down to our hearts. Why we do the things we do—the purpose in our hearts—matters much more to God than our long list of good deeds. Our purpose should be motivated by the gospel. What Jesus did for us on the cross should be our “why.” Without the gospel fueling our flame, good deeds are meaningless. We should be hearers of the Word and doers because of the gospel. Knowing this releases the pressure of perfection. God knows we are not perfect, so we don’t need to strive for perfection. God is absolutely a God of first, second, third, and fourth chances. There is a never-ending fountain of grace that flows from His throne. All we must do is ask for it.
Fear is no longer the motivation for good works. Instead, it is Christ on the cross. His love for us was demonstrated through His death, burial, and resurrection. He did all of it so that we wouldn’t have to take that punishment. What was Jesus’ “why”? Love, for us. This is exactly what our motivation should be. Love, for Him.
Reise Stromstad [FLBC second-year student] is a member of Resurrection Free Lutheran, Beltrami, Minn.
Share this Post