Part of my tendency in my work life and in my Christian walk is to size myself and my performance against others or my own expectations for myself. When I do this, I’ve found there are only two outcomes. The first outcome is a feeling that I’m not measuring up, which often leads to a sense of guilt and a plan of action to do better. The second outcome is the actual feeling of accomplishment, which has the tendency to fuel my pride and arrogance. Although I’d love to land right in the middle of these two outcomes, I’m reminded by the Gospel that it will never happen as long as I measure myself against the wrong objects.
In order to fully apply the glory of the Gospel, we must stop comparing ourselves with others and ourselves and realize the only one worth comparing ourselves to is Jesus. As we compare ourselves to him, we will realize how our shortcomings are always met with amazing grace, love, encouragement. When we have accomplishments, we will begin to see that all the glory goes to God – a realization that produces humbleness that we can’t manufacture ourselves.
In the book, “The Discipline of Grace” by Jerry Bridges, he reminds us that we have to preach the Gospel to ourselves every day to stop comparing ourselves to others (and ourselves) and to end a good day/bad day mentality of our Christianity. Bridges sets the stage with two scenarios. In the “good day” scenario, a Christian has their quiet time and is pleasant to their coworkers all day long. In the “bad day” scenario, the same Christian is running late, misses time with God, and is short and rude to their coworkers. Bridges polled believers, and found that about 80% would be less confident of God’s blessing while sharing
Christ at the end of the bad day than they would a good one. Bridges states:
Is such thinking justified? Does God work that way? The answer to both questions is no, because God’s blessing does not depend on our performance. Why then do we think this way? It is because we do believe that God’s blessing on our lives is somehow conditioned upon our spiritual performance. If we’ve performed well and had a “good” day, we assume we are in a position for God to bless us…. Such thinking is even stronger when we’ve had a “bad” day. There is virtually no doubt in our minds that we have forfeited God’s favor for some period of time, most likely until the next day. I’ve asked people why they think God would probably not use them to share the gospel with someone on a “bad” day. A typical reply is, “I wouldn’t be worthy”, or “I wouldn’t be good enough.” Such a reply reveals an all-too common misconception of the Christian life: the thinking that, although we are saved by grace, we earn or forfeit God’s blessings in our daily lives by our performance.
What this reveals is that if we are living in light of the Gospel – we have to remind ourselves of who and what we’re measuring ourselves up against. If you are in the “bad day”, this doesn’t mean you overlook your sin but that you bring it to God and pray that you could see more of his grace through it. If you feel you are having a “good day” spiritually, it means you praise God for it and pray you would continue to respond in obedience. Bridges sums this up in the following quote:
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.
– Read Luke 5:32. Jesus said “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. What do you need to bring to Jesus in repentance?
– Consider if you are still carrying guilt over a bad day, week, month, or year spiritually. Pray that God would use this to show you more of his grace, and read Galatians 5:1 “For freedom Christ has set us free”.