When Work and Worth Get Too Cozy

Written By Mikaila Bisson, USA

It starts with the simple act of doing my daily devotions. I do them every morning . . . or try to. Many mornings, I hit snooze one too many times and, since I’m then rushed for time, my devotions are the thing that gets skipped. If I’m not doing my devotions daily and studying God’s Word to better know Him, what am I missing out on in terms of worthiness and relationship with God?  —Strike 1

When I get to work, I check my email and discover I missed a deadline—a display of my weakness and failure. How does this shortcoming make me measure up in God’s eyes?  —Strike 2

When I play for my soccer team after work, I accidentally let a curse word fly on the field and miss a chance to evangelize to my non-Christian friends. Because of these small neglects, what does God think of me? Where does my salvation land in the midst of all this sin?  —Strike 3

One of the themes of my life is striving for perfection. I strove for perfection in my schoolwork growing up. I strove to be the best in my catechism classes. I strove to be the best in sports. A lot of my identity rode on how “good” I was in different areas of my life. Even today, I still struggle with letting my identity get wrapped up in things like whether I go to work and meet deadlines, or how effectively I can help others. My brain is constantly telling me “Go, go, go. Do that and you’ll be rewarded. You’ll stand out. You’ll be the best.” And I like being the best. This leaves me feeling exhausted, as if the strike count is destined to keep piling up.

But God has a very different message. The verse I chose when I publicly declared my faith in front of my church, John 15:16, tells me that God chose me—despite my sin, despite my striving for perfection and failure to attain it.

Where I hear God’s message loudest is at church on Sunday. At church, I can come as I am. I don’t have to try to be perfect; I can be messy or unorganized or full of questions, and God will love me just the same. It’s as if every week, I’m reminded that the score is wiped clean, and I’ve actually won the game! Jesus paid it all for me so that I can spend eternity with Him in heaven.

. . . but then Monday rolls around, and I proceed to work just as hard to earn my worth once more. Why can’t I remember the messages of Sunday morning more clearly throughout my week?

I don’t know the right answer to this question, but I can start by noticing where God is in the small things throughout my day. When Elijah sought the Lord’s presence, he found it not in the wind, earthquake, or the fire, but in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:12). This encourages me to listen for how God might speak to me through whispers—perhaps a small encouragement from a coworker or the opportunity to receive prayer from a friend I’m catching up with that day.

So, even though I still start my day with the simple act of doing my daily devotions, I try to view it as time to sit with God, time that prepares me to listen to and follow Him more clearly throughout my day. It’s not a means to an end or something to tack on to my list of to do’s—it’s quality time with my Savior, who doesn’t judge me if my alarm wakes me up too late.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8).

And when I get to work, check my email, and discover I missed a deadline, I take a deep breath and remember the grace I can have for myself because of God’s grace for me.

And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works (Romans 11:6).

After work, when I play for my soccer team and accidentally let a curse word fly on the field, or I miss a chance to evangelize to my non-Christian friends, I remember that nothing I do can taint God’s love for me, or the endless grace He’s given me—even when I mess up.

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given (John 1:16).

When I change my perspective from “be perfect” to “God’s perfect love saved me so that I don’t have to be perfect,” my exhaustion is made into new strength. This perspective means I don’t have to weigh myself down with worry about what will happen if I don’t do everything perfectly, but instead I am unburdened and more able to live freely in the hope of Christ’s promises.

There is freedom in knowing that I will bear fruit with Christ as my guide, and not by my own doing (John 15:5). My weaknesses, as well as my strengths, become a part of God’s plan—and in whatever way that plan is manifested, I am saved by the blood of Christ.

 

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