The tiring life of the performance trap

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This is a guest post from Chris Lautsbaugh, who lives in Muizenberg, South Africa. He and his wife, Lindsey (and their two sons), serve with Youth With a Mission (YWAM), teaching and training missionaries and church leaders, reaching out to under privileged communities, planting churches, and meeting needs associated with the issues South Africa faces. They have been in missions for 35 combined years. Chris blogs HERE, and you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook, and you can pick up his book HERE

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image credit: Creation Swap user Cody Jensen

Weariness, fatigue, headaches, and general tiredness are often minor symptoms of a more serious, underlying sickness.

This is true in both medicine and in Christianity.

Consider many of the commands the Bible offers:

  • “Be holy as I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16)
  • “As you forgive, so you will be forgiven.” (Luke 6:37)
  • “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”(Ephesians 4:29)
  • “Flee youthful lusts” (2 Timothy 2:22)

“Do not…”

“Avoid…”

“Stop…”

Anyone feeling tired? Do you feel worn out at the thought of living up to these standards?

Perhaps we should check this Christianity at the door and find something with a few less rules and fine print. Maybe something like the IRS instruction manual for taxes!

Matt Chandler, in a recent message on Galatians at The Village Church, says “the Law is a diagnosis of the problem,” showing us our need for a cure. These commands do the same thing. They show us our weakness and shortcomings.

No one is saved by keeping the Law. In the same way, no one can perfectly keep the commands of the New Testament. Living perfectly holy and without sin is impossible.

Yet, somehow we try.

Chandler, in his sermon, goes on to say “Grace is the cure for the diagnosis the Law gives.”

God never intended us to reach the goal of perfection. We instead put our faith in the one who has. Jesus gave us his righteousness when we trusted in him for our salvation.

He met God’s standard and gave that accomplishment to us.

Neither holiness nor the Law has ever saved anyone. Faith in Christ, not works, is where we receive Christ’s sacrifice and gift of righteousness.

“For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” 2 Corinthians 5:21

As you self-diagnose your Christian life, what symptoms do you see?

Weakness, fatigue, guilt, stress, performance, and striving = SICK

Love, gratitude, peace, joy, contentment, and hope = HEALTHY

Sick people need Grace. It is the cure for the disease which ails our society.

These traits of striving and performance are prevalent in all areas of society, even creeping into our churches. While Paul does tell us to “work out our salvation” (Philippians 2:12), a balance with grace is essential.

This working out is not a formula for God’s approval, it is a response to it. Growth comes from a motivation of knowing our God, not an attempt to improve the work of the Cross.

If we are diagnosed with the disease of performance, the good doctor orders a healthy dose of truth.

Prescription for the Performance Trap

1. Growth from a place of rest – Responding to God’s grace rather than attempting to earn it brings an evidence of peace in our lives.

2. Meditate on the truth of our salvation. We need to remind ourselves daily about the good news.

3. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 stating what we have “in Christ”- Go ahead, make a list. Note the good gifts we are given.

4. Believe it - It is one thing to know it mentally, it is a completely different thing to walk in the truth.

5. Reject the lies of the Enemy and of society. The lies of “nothing is free” or is it ” good to be true” must be rejected. Grace is amazingly good.

Repeat as needed daily.

If our stress levels and misguided attempts to please God bring on the same symptoms as sickness, how can we offer a cure to those who are truly in need of healing?

Your mother used to tell you to take your medicine. Now it’s time to take your “grace pill” to cure the Christian disease.

What other symptoms are a part of this disease? If the church walked in grace more, what changes would come?

 

Christ follower, husband, father, writer, small groups pastor at Saddleback Community Church. Communications director for the Small Group Network.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.