Skip to main content

Do and get...or get and do

Does God do the "stuff" in our lives he does out of obligation to us because we have somehow "earned" it - done enough, been good enough, or said enough of the right stuff? Do we obtain the blessings of God, including his attention and his directing influence, simply because we hit some point of "enough" to warrant it? The truth is that we are a church with a mixed up set of ideas at times. We believe in the work of Christ - salvation through his shed blood (an act of faith). Yet we cannot fully detach from the influence of the common beliefs of our day that you get good stuff when you do good deeds (works and right behavior). Is 'behaving good' all that it takes to get God's blessings?

Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don't these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God. (Galatians 3:5-6)

This is indeed a good question for each of us to consider in our daily walk! The idea of thinking anything we do, say, or imagine in our minds will bring us into a "better place" with God is pretty commonly believed in some circles. All the "moral striving" we go through - and for some of us, this may be quite a bit of repeated 'doing' - is really just "good deeds", but it is NOT what brings us into God's presence, gives us the leading of his Holy Spirit, or provides us with some good or positive outcome. It is Christ alone who accomplishes this within us making it important to realize that no amount of our own striving produces positive effect!

You have probably heard it said, "God helps those who help themselves." Although you may think it is biblical, it really isn't. When we say this, we are declaring our intention to take the initiative - to get the results we desire. This phrase actually originated in Greek mythology! Aeschylus wrote, "Whenever a man makes haste, God too hastens with him." This comes from the Greek tragedy, The Persians, written in 427 BC. Sophocles wrote, "No good e'er comes of leisure purposelessness; and heaven ne'er helps the men who will not act." He was another writer of Greek tragedies during the same time period. The concept of acting FIRST, then asking God for help AFTER you act is a concept taught throughout Greek mythology. Thinking God will 'back up' your actions is kind of futile if you aren't taking the right actions in the first place! Those Greeks were murdering people for the sport of it and saying it was all 'good'.

Although there have been various "iterations" of this concept over the ages, the most notable to us is the present day rendering of "God helps those who help themselves." This variation was penned by an Englishman (Algernon Sidney), intent on editorializing the governmental issues he was encountering in 1698. We probably remember it best as being part of the writing of Benjamin Franklin - a quote in his Almanac in 1736 - making it popular to the masses. Regardless of how we have come to learn this "concept" - we have learned a concept which is foreign to the scriptural teaching of dependence upon God for direction! Yes, God expects us to work - laboring well at our calling in life. Yes, he expects us to engage in life - open to the leading he gives. In fact, he invites us to act WITH him! Solomon penned the words, "I have seen all the works done under the sun; indeed all is vanity and grasping at the wind." (Ecclesiastes 1:14) At best, our works are "grasping at the wind" - any attempt to grasp the wind will show us each the futility of even trying!

We have an opportunity to change our mindset. We can either believe we must do "things" in order for God to intervene in our lives, or like we are taught in scripture, we can accept God has already intervened despite our "doing"! At best, our "doing" falls short of perfect faith! No amount of "doing good" gains us any closeness of walk with Christ. "Doing good" is an outcome of "being made" good! The "being made" part is God's part - not ours! So, if we have a tendency to be "self-initiators" in this walk with God, we might want to step back a little to see where it is God is leading! He may have an entirely different course for our lives - one which is not focused on all the "works" we have been pursuing. In fact, he may lead us away from some of those "works" into a place of grace we have never experienced before when we finally stop "doing" and just learn to "trust" in his completed work for our lives - the work of the Cross provided ALL we need for salvation! Just sayin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

What did obedience cost Mary and Joseph?

As we have looked at the birth of Christ, we have considered the fact he was born of a virgin, with an earthly father so willing to honor God with his life that he married a woman who was already pregnant.  In that day and time, a very taboo thing.  We also saw how the mother of Christ was chosen by God and given the dramatic news that she would carry the Son of God.  Imagine her awe, but also see her tremendous amount of fear as she would have received this announcement, knowing all she knew about the time in which she lived about how a woman out of wedlock showing up pregnant would be treated.  We also explored the lowly birth of Jesus in a stable of sorts, surrounded by animals, visited by shepherds, and then honored by magi from afar.  The announcement of his birth was by angels - start to finish.  Mary heard from an angel (a messenger from God), while Joseph was set at ease by a messenger from God on another occasion - assuring him the thing he was about to do in marrying Mary wa

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce

Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean