Are you striving or thriving?

When our work defines us we strive. When God defines us we thrive.

For many years I thought that my WORK determined who I was and what I was worth. If I was successful (another term that needs redefining), it was because of my hard work. If I messed up, I was in a state of crisis.

People 2213I remember the day I found out that I had miscalculated the time it would take me to do the graphic design part of a project. The end result was that when our company’s bid was accepted and we did the job, my error not only ate up all the profits, but ended up costing the company money. I never wanted to be asked to help prepare another bid. After all, hadn’t I just proved that I didn’t have the skill and the brains, that I couldn’t be trusted? ”

Perhaps you’ve blown it again, and you’re confronted with your imperfect raw materials and your inability to live the way you want to live—the way God’s righteousness demands that you live.

 If your work–and your demand for perfection–defines your worth, it binds you in the prison called fear of failure. It stops you from living under freedom from sin–a gift from Jesus Christ, one that He suffered and sacrificed his life to bestow on each and every one of us.

God made you. You are his design. Yes, we are all broken and live in a broken world. We aren’t capable of perfection in anything, so how can we think of ourselves as anything other than flawed and worthless?

In his book The Me I Want to Be, John Ortberg writes:
“Each of us has a me that we think we should be,
which is at odds with the me that God made us to be.
Sometimes letting go of that self may be a relief. Sometimes it will feel like death.”

God gave us a role model–a man after his own heart–King David. Yet, he was a womanizer and a murderer who played dodgy political games–certainly not a man who was defined by his good works. Just what part of this mentor are we supposed to emulate?

When David was confronted with his sin, he owned it, begged for forgiveness, and then asked God for amazing things anyway. David knew and experienced love and forgiveness daily because he believed in God’s promised redemption. When he messed up, God gave David–and he gives us–a pathway back to him.

I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work.
So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how,
and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ.
My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Galatians 2:19-21 (MSG)

When God looks at you, if you have claimed Jesus as your Savior and Redeemer, he sees your perfect eternal identity, the you he created you to be. Your sins—past, present, and future—are paid for. And your quest on earth is to live in that eternal identity, no matter what sin and the devil do to sweep you off your feet.

Live by faith. Live in God’s love. Live in relationship with him. And know your eternal identity right here, right now.

Prayer for  your down days:
Lord, do you ever listen to my confessions and compare them to a revolving door—I sin, confess, and sin again? I feel so worthless, Lord. In the middle of dark nights when my load of discouragement and shame is too heavy to bear, when I feel broken and unlovable, pull me up on your knee, hold me close, and whisper in my ear how much you love me. Set me back on my feet and give me the strength to live a God-fashioned life. Amen.

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