As a little girl, I recognized the power in achievement. I wanted to be the best, to be noticed and appreciated for my skills and abilities. And even as the shortest student in my class, I fought for-and often won-a place in the hierarchy of leadership. Kids usually wanted me on their team.
I knew God would want me on His team, too. So, when I was nine or ten years old, I walked down the aisle of my church and announced my plans to become a missionary. Even though I had no idea what salvation was, I promised God I would go anywhere and tell others about Him if he would just do one little, itsy-bitsy thing–let my hamster, Snowball, live.
Well, Snowball didn’t make it. But I told God I’d be a missionary anyway. I’d keep my end of the bargain, even if He didn’t keep His. And the simple fact that I could make such a promise proved I was missionary material!
In my young mind, I figured God was pretty lucky to have me, and I sure hoped He realized it. With my help, we were going to be able to do some amazing things together. It was a win-win situation for both of us.
As you’ve probably figured out, I never became a missionary. Instead, I grew up, married my high school sweetheart, and moved on with the important things of life. I went to church, taught Sunday School, and sang in the choir.
I was just like the Pharisees. I looked good, I smelled good, but what did my heart say? What was my motive? What did God think of all my good deeds?
For years, I worked from a self-centered heart, performing the duties of a good little Christian. Without even realizing it, I was keeping score of my jobs, subconsciously adding them up and comparing them to others. I was giving from a heart of pride–one that hoped my good deeds could win the love and acceptance of a Holy God.
Are you like that? Are you keeping score? If so, let me tell you–the scoreboard is defective! Regardless of the numbers showing on the screen, it’s wrong. Our good deeds don’t win us any points. Without the forgiveness of sin through the blood of Jesus Christ, we have no points! Zero. Nada. The score is a gazillion to nothing, and we’re on the losing side.
Praise God, the day finally came when I realized the true meaning of salvation. Twenty years after walking down that aisle to be a missionary, I finally understood grace and mercy and the gift Jesus offers through His blood on the cross. The power of His sacrifice became real, and I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior. No more lists, no more weighing my good deeds against my bad. I knew the truth: Salvation wasn’t based on my goodness. It was based on His grace.
But now, even as Christians who know the truth, there can still be times when pride and self-centeredness can take our eyes off what’s important and focus our sight on us and our achievements.
And even though God loves us with an unconditional love, this pride grieves Him. Over and over, His Word warns us of pride and its destructive results. We often concentrate on how we appear, when it is our hearts–our intent–that is most important to God. He wants a heart of brokenness and sorrow. A heart that acknowledges His holiness and addresses our sin. A humble and contrite heart that trembles at His word (Isaiah 66:2b).
None of us have it all together; we haven’t arrived. And yet, it’s easy to find our worth in ourselves and our accomplishments, rather than in Him and His grace.
It’s a fragile, fleeting worth.
So today, let’s commit together to offer our lives, our writing, our successes, and our failures to Him and let Him determine their use.
I have to admit, I’m still competitive. Even now, it doesn’t matter if it’s a card game, a talent show, or a round of leg wrestling, I want to win!
But the thing I want to win most is the battle with my heart. I want a heart that seeks to lift Him up, one that glorifies Him and allows His light to shine through me, regardless of my earthly success. I want others to look at me . . . but see Him! Isn’t that what you want, too?
Mother Teresa once said, “Humility is truth. The path that will make us more like Jesus is the path to humility. Pride destroys everything.”
Jesus died on the cross for one reason-so that all could be saved. Oh, how we need to be transparent, winsome witnesses for Christ, and boast not in what we do for Him, but only in what He did for us!