For it is by trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace -Galatians 5:4
I recently finished a bible study on the Fruits of the Spirit from She Reads Truth. Throughout the study, I felt God continually showing me that I can never be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, or self-controlled on my own. Those are fruits of God’s spirit, not mine. I can only reflect those fruits in my life by abiding in Him. I was particularly convicted when I came to goodness. As the author of this devotion told her own story, I felt myself relating to where she had been spiritually. She explained that all her life she had been praised for being “good.” As a teenager she discovered that she had slowly began to see herself as good. She came to the realization that she was relying on her own goodness to save her. One line particularly stood out to me
“my goodness wasn’t enough to save me—it was actually separating me from Christ.” -Raechel Myers, She Reads Truth
This opened my eyes to a scary truth. I can try to be good. I can try to follow all the rules, say all the right lines, and go to church every Sunday. But as hard as I try, as good as my life may seem, it will never be enough. I can never save myself. The reality is that I’m a sinner, my life is just broken pieces and failed efforts. I am utterly helpless and broken, in desperate need of a Savior. I am not good, but Jesus is. Jesus is the only truly good person to ever step foot on this earth. All we have to do is realize how sinful we are without Him. When we come to that realization and bring our sinful,broken hearts to God, He stares into our tear-filled eyes and ugly hearts. He sees our failed goodness. He knows that we will never be good enough. He takes our “not good enough” and He, the only truly good, bears our punishment.
I have always been praised for making the right decisions, for following the rules, and for the good deeds I’ve done. My life seems “good” by the world’s standards. I think many Christians with similar situations and church backgrounds can relate. It becomes easy to look at our lives and see all the rules we have kept and start to believe the lie that we’re “good,” but this is just a slow trap into sin. We start to become complacent with our lives. We look at the good things we’ve done and the right decisions we’ve made and we lose sight of God. Instead we see ourselves, not God. Though we don’t like to admit it, we begin to see ourselves as good. This leads to a disastrous situation we forget our need for God. We blindly view our life and see no need for grace, for a Savior. We begin to fall away from God’s grace. Satan takes God’s very own goodness and He twists it into evil in our lives.
Being good on our own effort is exhausting, I’ve tried. When we start to think of ourselves as good by our own efforts, we create an inevitable problem. What happens when we mess up? We’re humans, we’re sinners, we are going to make mistakes. If our lives and faith are built on the foundation of our own goodness, it leaves us burdened with guilt, regret, and failure when we do mess up. When we give up on our own goodness and turn to God, to His goodness, we experience freedom. We are freed from our failure and shame.
I have been learning that I’m not good enough. I don’t deserve God’s love. Despite how undeserving I am of God’s righteousness, He loves me anyway. When Jesus died on the cross, He conquered my “not-good-enough.” He died the death I deserved so that I don’t have to earn my salvation. God saves us and loves our ugly, messy, sin-filled hearts.
Let’s stop trying to be good enough. Instead, let’s surrender to God. We aren’t good enough, but God is. All we have to do is turn to Him. When we come to God and we abide in Him, His goodness will be displayed through our lives. Let’s focus on reflecting God’s goodness, His fruit, in our lives. By desperately relying on God, by seeking Him, and resting in His spirit, His goodness will flow from our lives.