For the past couple of weeks, God has been using a thought, a word, a truth like a chisel on my heart or mind. He is changing and molding me with it in a way I haven’t experienced for a long time. A discussion we had in our Community Group sparked it. The converstaion has popped back into my head so many times that I felt it was time to give it some public air time instead of just keeping it quiet in the corners of my own mind.
Sitting in our basement, gathered around the Word, our group was having a great discussion on how our works earn nothing before God – how we can do NOTHING to show Him how great we are. Someone then asked the question that I think was on many of our minds: “Why then should we go through the trouble to be obedient?” What is the point of “being good” or, to say it more correctly, “doing good things” if God doesn’t stand up, pat us on the back and give us a just reward?
To a life-long goodie-goodie who has spent years wrestling with the ideas of resting in grace while living a holy life, I can’t tell you how many times this question has knocked me off my feet, spiralling me either toward an attitude of frustration or utter complacency.
Then, a voice of truth, from right there in the middle of our group, spoke up and shed light on it for us all (mostly me though I think): “It all depends on how much you trust God. Do I believe that the ‘good things’ God tells me to do are for my good, or are they for my harm?” She went on to argue that God doesn’t just give us arbitrary laws to keep, or expectations that are lofty yet unbeneficial. No, He instructs us to a way of life that is best for us. “God loves us!” she reminded us. “All of His ways are for our good.”
How could I have missed such an obvious answer? God loves me. I forget that way too often. I am quick to believe that God has a list of do’s and don’ts that bring Him glory, but then I stop in my belief. Quite honestly, being obedient for the sheer satisfaction of glorifying God is seldom motivation enough for me to choose His ways over my own. I know I am supposed to be SO grateful for all He has done for me that I am propelled into a life of service, self-denial and cross-bearing, but my flesh is still super weak. It still lulls me into believing that that which kills me (sin) will actually brings me satisfaction. It deceives me into believing that God’s ways are not life, but that His commands will actually steal my life.
Imagine that…a church girl all my life actually believing that God’s ways are harmful to me. I guess they are detrimental in a way – detrimental to my self-constructed, worldly-swayed, comfortable way of life. But then I think, when has chasing after my own way ever led me to satisfaction or joy? In my desperate attempt to “love myself,” I chase after things that I think are good, but are actually bad for me. Maybe I’m not as good at loving myself as I thought…
But God loves me. And He loves me perfectly. He sees the beginning and the end. He sees the mind and the heart. Shoot, He created my mind and heart. He wired them. He knows best what they need, what they crave. Life revived, life centered on and consumed with Him – that is real life. In His overwhelming goodness, He has given me His Word and His Spirit to show me the way to LIFE. Even when my flesh tells me that it is not worth following His path because God won’t give me credit for it, the truth is, I don’t need credit (I have Jesus as my credit), I need LIFE. I need hope. I need the soul satisfaction that only my Creator can provide.
So, yes, God’s ways are higher. They display His wisdom and power and providence. When I follow them, I preach to the world that I believe He is God and His ways are best. But at the end of the day, actually at the beginning, middle and end of the day, it is the knowledge that His ways are also good for me that will keep me centered on obedience. I can fully trust His promises to bless those who follow His ways – not because “doing good” makes me a good person – but only His life path is designed to lead me to the truly good life.