Why do we have this recurring tendency to go back to the score sheet?
As Christians, the truth is that we are free from any need to keep score and measure ourselves by our good deeds.
We don’t have to earn God’s love. Romans 5:8 says “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He loved us before we ever thought about earning it.
We don’t have to strive to remain in God’s love. In Jeremiah 31:3 God told His people “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Everlasting applies in both directions – past and future. He always loved us, and He always will.
Bottom line: Everything is His doing and none of it is ours!
This takes some getting used to. It’s not an easy concept to grasp. And, even when we finally get it, we still have this tendency to drift back to thinking we must do work to keep things right with God. Why is that?
I can think of a few reasons:
- It’s ingrained in us. From our earliest days, we are told there is no free lunch. If we want to succeed in school, sports, career, relationships, <insert-other-life-pursuit-here>, we must work for it. We get to where we are and have what we have based on our efforts. This is, in my opinion, the fundamental idea that makes it so hard to grasp the truth in the first place.
- There are plenty of voices telling us this is the way it has to be. The Galatians didn’t fall into this trap completely on their own. Teachers came through their churches telling them that they had to follow the Jewish customs to be truly right with God. And (probably because of point #1 above) it made perfect sense, so they bought it. And – don’t miss this – this was not people outside the church telling them such things. It was people in the church! Sound familiar?
- True freedom in relationship with Christ is a unique experience. This point intertwines with point #2 – but it’s worth mentioning separately. There is no religion in the world where the work is already done and we don’t have to strive. The reason why those voices in the church sound so convincing and make so much sense is because it fits with everything we know about religion. Which is why it’s important to differentiate relationship with Christ from religious performance. They are *not* the same.
- It’s a core weapon of the Enemy. It is key to Satan’s manipulative schemes; a tool used to distract believers and get them out of the game. Granted, there are a ton of tools in his toolbox – discouragement, depression, anxiety, fear, to name a few. But when you think through it, don’t these all trace back to our self-perceived inability (or anticipated inability) to measure up? In other words, don’t those things often (always?) come back to us thinking we’re not doing enough to keep our scorecard in the positive? And the more he can keep us focusing on what we need to do to earn God’s love, the less we’re focusing on showing God’s love to others.
Those are just a few thoughts. I’m sure there are more (feel free to share yours in the comments).
The truth is there will always be this draw to come back to what we’re doing and where our win/loss percentage stands. But all that is a lie and a distraction.
True, prayer and obedience serve a purpose. It improves the quality of the relationship in that it brings you closer to Him.
But it does nothing to bring Him closer to you. He already loves you infinitely.
So put the scorecard away, and live like you’re already loved. Because you are.