I would like to consider myself a “good Christian”. Why do I think of myself as a good Christian? Well, I go to church every Sunday. I give my time and resources to the church and other ministries. I read my bible. I pray. I participate in Bible studies. I have gone on mission trips. Man, I really AM a good Christian. If God were passing out special rewards, surely I would get one!
Now before you start thinking “who does this chick think she is?!”, please know that I am truly just kidding. I’ve been following Jesus long enough to know that my “good works” do not earn me any special rewards or get me extra brownie points with God.
He loves us because He loves us. Period. The truth is that right now I’m NOT doing many of the things I listed. But whatever I do, it’s in response to what God has already done for me through His forgiveness and the gift of salvation. However I choose to honor God is simply a reasonable response of worship to my Lord and Savior.
I also know that anything I do is like filthy rags if my motive is wrong, according to scripture (Isaiah 64:6), because my Christian activities do not help me earn my righteousness.
I need Jesus more and more every day and I became painfully aware of that fact the other day when God revealed to me my own selfishness.
Let me ask you this before I share what happened. This is a quick little test to see if you are being like Christ – how do you respond when asked to give of yourself (time, energy, resources) to something of which you have nothing to gain and no interest in. Do you act selflessly when someone asks you for help for something that’s important to them but means nothing to you?
Are you willing to give when you have nothing to gain? Or do you try to make excuses as to why you can’t help? If you do decide to help, is it with reluctance? Do you only help because you feel like you have to or you’d feel guilty if you didn’t?
This was my test God threw my way the other day. I was put into a situation where the condition of my heart was tested. I had to decide in the moment if I was going to do something that I didn’t “feel” like doing. I had nothing to gain by giving of my time and it was something that meant nothing to me. But it was important to the person who asked for my help. I said no. I selfishly chose to decline the opportunity to be all that I say I want to be as a Christ follower. I failed.
I find myself spending time thinking I’m doing pretty good but then it only takes a moment to see how desperately I need my Savior. My lesson learned is to never get comfortable. Never begin to think that it’s enough. Nothing I do will ever be enough in return for what Christ has done for me. And anything I do means nothing if in the moment I choose myself over others simply because I have nothing to gain from them.
This world we live in teaches us to look out for number one, to take what you can get and that everyone else is out to get you. Don’t do for others because they’ll just end up using you and expecting more. We have become cynical and desensitized to doing things for those who can never repay us. We are unwilling to give of ourselves unless there’s something in it for us, and that’s in direct contrast to God’s word.
So what did I do after I realized I had failed? First, I repented of my attitude and my selfishness. And now, I just keep on keeping on. I try each day to be more like Christ by spending time in His word and in prayer. I keep in mind how desperate I am for more of Him. And I wait. Because I know it won’t be long before the opportunity comes again to do something for someone who can do nothing for me in return.
And in the meantime, I pray that in that moment, I will seek God’s strength to overcome my weaknesses so I can be sure not to fail again.