In the second week of Finally Free, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder asked us if we are living FOR approval or FROM approval. At first glance, the two choices sound pretty similar. Are you seeking first to PLEASE God, or are you seeking first to TRUST God? You might be thinking, “shouldn’t I want to do both?”
When you seek to please God, you strive for sinless living. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you understand that sinless living is impossible. When you try to please God, you are trying to change yourself from who you are to who you should be. You are constantly working toward becoming more righteous. While this sounds nice, it is exhausting and frustrating, and ultimately produces a feeling of shame. No matter how hard you try, you will fall short.
When you seek first to trust God, you realize that you are already righteous, made that way by God when you first came to believe, because of what Christ has done for you. You are living FROM the approval of God instead of FOR his approval. Living from a place of approval is how we remove the shame from our lives.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
This verse is telling you that your “goodness” does not please God. It is telling you that God rewards you for seeking him, not for seeking to please him.
If we are saved by God’s grace and not by our good deeds, does this mean we should surrender to sin and live however we want? No. Your actions are important because they affect your heart. Trusting God doesn’t change God’s heart toward you, it changes your heart toward God. However, when you do not trust God and choose your own path, it will hurt you because it will eventually harden your heart. Even though God will love you just as much, you won’t love God as much.
In my life, I feel closest to God when I am studying the Bible, attending church, praying regularly, and worshiping him. This closeness doesn’t come from pleasing him, rather from focusing my heart and thoughts on him throughout the day.
Do you measure your closeness to God by how little you are sinning or by how much Jesus loves you?
Why is it more important to focus on trusting God than on pleasing him?
Make a list of what you do to try to please God. Next, make a list of how you trust God. Compare the two lists. How can you take the actions from the “pleasing God” list and translate them to the “trusting God” list?
God, thank you for your grace. Thank you for not requiring perfection, but instead loving me just as I am. Amen.
This post was written by Meghan Yarnell. Meghan is an art teacher and artist. She is married and has a son and daughter.
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