20 November 2006

Place of Rest, IV

I thought I was done with this topic, but I don’t think I’ve done an adequate job of communicating what I’m trying to communicate. Then, yesterday during the sermon, our senior pastor helped me clarify and I thought I’d have one more go at it.

His sermon was on Luke 14:1-24 and the topic was the failure of religion. He dealt with the failure of legalism (working to earn God’s favor and our salvation), pride (in our accomplishments toward earning God’s favor and our salvation), and presumption (assuming we’re good enough to earn God’s favor and our salvation). He finished up with a few application questions to help us gauge our own spiritual health in these areas, one of which was, “Is my mood based on my performance?” This question was the key.

If my mood is based on how well I’m doing, then that’s a symptom that I’m putting my faith in my actions and my ability to perform rather than in Christ’s finished work on the cross. Anxiety over how my day is going is a clear sign that I’m relying on myself and my (supposed) good works to try to earn the Lord’s favor instead of trusting in his unfailing love for me as expressed through the cross, and resting in his goodness and his plan for my day. If I can keep the gospel in focus, reminding myself that I’m an incapable sinner and that he’s done it all and given me all good things because of his grace, I can rest in him.

This morning, as I sat and made my to do list for the next few days, I saw a potentially difficult week with many opportunities for frustration and anxiety. As I prayed over the list, my prayer wasn’t that the Lord would help me get it all done (although without his help, I can’t), rather I prayed that I would be able to rest in him and in his grace today as I worked, in full reliance on his strength, keeping my focus on the gospel.

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