From childhood, I have used accomplishment as a tool to receive affirmation. I so wanted to hear- “wow, what a great job Mitch” that I would go to the extreme to hear it. At age four and five, I was already shining the chrome fixtures in the bathroom just to receive praise. I would make the porcelain gleam just waiting for my mother to notice.
As I aged, this became a way of life for me. This produced in me a drive to succeed. So my life was filled with doing things to be accepted. That’s hard. I could never really rest. I never thought that I’d done enough.
When I gave my life to Jesus, this motivation still dominated me. Now I was doing things to receive acceptance from the Father. And I noticed that deep within me, I didn’t think He as quite pleased with me. So restlessness ruled me.
In the mid 1980’s, I was part of the pastoral staff in a large church in Tulsa. I was in my office one morning, feeling that I wasn’t quite doing enough to be pleasing to the Father. And I came across a definition of Grace that changed my life.
Grace is God’s ability working in you to enable you to do what you can’t do yourself. Faith changes things and circumstances. Grace changes people. And somehow a dynamic changed inside of me.
I had been trying to measure up to some standard all my life. Then as a believer, I tried to measure up to some grandiose standard that I created in my own head so that the Father would be pleased with me. For the first time, I saw that Jesus pleased the Father for me! And all this grunting and straining to attain some super spiritual level was righteousness by works and not by grace through faith. I had a grace heart and a works mentality.
But now I saw that the Father just simply loved me. I broke down and began to cry. I didn’t have to measure up to some high standard for the Father to love me. His love is not based on accomplishment, but on His own benevolent nature. He loved me for who I was, not for what did.
I took all this doing things to be pleasing motivation to Him. And I asked for His grace, His ability to do in me what I can’t do myself, to change this works motivation that pushed me so hard.
Now, all these years later, I can rest. His grace, His ability to do in me what I can’t do myself, has helped me settle down into the peace of God. I’m no longer driven with this deep need to perform to be accepted. I am accepted in the beloved! Now I do what I do out of a motivation to bless and help others, and out of a motivation to obey my Father and give Him Glory.
The rest of grace through faith is where the Father wants us all to live. I encourage you to allow the Father’s unconditional love into your life, and to let go of the need to perform to be accepted. The Father wants you to cease from your own works and rest in the acceptance that Jesus’ blood purchased for you freely!