“For freedom Christ has set us free: stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.”  Gal 5:1

On the surface, this verse argues for a religion that orients on what God has done a priori and not what we have to do a posteriori to earn His favor. (If you’ve been around a Gospel-preaching church, you will have heard at least once that the Father punished the Son for our rebellion & evil deeds and then credited us with the Son’s perfect record of righteous living.)  The Christian religion or practices AFTER this event in history include taking this message to the world and teaching ourselves to walk in light of this ‘fait accompli’.

But as I struggle daily with understanding the Gospel message & power, I realize that I still live in the self-created religion of “Good Day/ Bad Day”.

Have you heard about this religion?  I don’t think I’m the only practitioner.  But I have my version and I would wager that you, fellow believer, have your personalized script.  You and I, we do pretty well at spouting ‘Done, not Do’.  Like you, I am SO BEYOND working my way toward earning God’s approval.  I’ve absorbed Tim Keller, Mike Horton and Tullian Tchividjian’s messages.  It’s not: what would Jesus do, but what has Jesus done.

My version of religion is far more insidious.  Here’s how it works:  I have appointed myself God and have created one religious rule for obtaining salvation/approval/heaven on earth.  This is how it goes:

I am worthy if I meet standard X,Y or Z

How I measure my day, is based on how well I succeed in meeting my standard.

My husband will ask me, “Did you have a good day?” It’s an innocent and loving question, even innocuous on the surface.  But how does one answer it?  It depends on how one defines GOOD!

Here are some possibilities from my life and others. See if you identify.

  • I was able to get the house clean – so it was a good day
  • Not one of the kids threw up, got into an argument, or broke anything – so it was a good day
  • I saw some progress in my projects at work – so it was a good day
  • I knocked off many items from my list – so it was a good day
  • My students were eating out of my hand – so it was a good day
  • I was pain-free – so it was a good day
  • I was complimented by my boss – so it was a good day
  • I stayed on my diet – so it was a good day
  • My kids didn’t annoy me – so it was a good day
  • I had a good night sleep – so it was a good day
  • I felt like I made a difference at work – so it was a good day
  • I got an A on the test – so it was a good day
  • I now have a date for Prom – so it was a good day
  • I paid the bills and there was enough money in the account – so it was a good day
  • I got accepted by a college/ I got offered a job – so it was a good day
  • I didn’t have to wait long to see the doctor – so it was a good day
  • It’s Friday and I made it through the week – so it was a good day
  • I had some time to myself – so it was a good day
  • It rained on the crops – so it was a good day
  • She called/ she didn’t call – so it was a good day
  • He listened to me – so it was a good day
  • I felt worthwhile…loved…. respected by him/ her/ them – so it was a good day


What’s wrong with this list, you might be saying?  They are perfectly normal things.  It’s not like we’ve set the standard unrealistically high: winning the lottery or being elected President.

The perversity of it is that we even have a list by which we measure ourselves.  Yes, we have tasks and work to do.  But we are not to evaluate ourselves by how or if we do them.  They should be emotion-free.  And scratch off any evaluative item that has to do with getting people to do something or think something.  That’s MORE than futile – that’s stupid!!! (I’m talking to myself.J)

So what are we to do?  Wrong question!  It’s rather, “how are we to order our thinking?”  By remembering, repenting and asking for Holy Spirit help to SUPER-GLUE our minds on the Truth.  Here are the 3 biggies that make up the basic Truth

  • God & Jesus & the HS planned and carried out a rescue mission, saving us from the futile way we were living.  You & I have immeasurable worth in view of the trouble the Trinity went to save us.
  • We have enough supernatural power in us as new creations (courtesy of our permanent resident, the Holy Spirit) to accomplish what God wants us to do.
  • We have a certain and eternal future which far outweighs the suffering and disappointment we all face every day, every week and every year of our lives.

So what should be our goal? What benchmark do we set for ourselves so we know how to measure whether it’s been a good day, a good year, and a good life?  If money, achievement, personal or relational goals are taken away, what is left?

“Therefore, (in view of all that awaits us and all that God has done) we have as our ambition….to be pleasing to Him” 2 Cor 5: 9

That’s it!  And if we fail today, we repent and start over tomorrow, confident that our falling short doesn’t affect our true security. When we succeed, we thank Him for his grace that enabled us to please Him this day.  This Christ-purchased freedom leaves no room for shame, pride, frustration or anger.

There is one other benefit to this re-ordered way of thinking and self-evaluation.  Since we’re no longer our own god with our own self-imposed standard of righteousness, we are not even tempted to impose on others OUR rules for correct behavior.  Think of the angst we endure when we add ‘judge of those around me’ to our job description.  These co-workers, fellow drivers, family members and friends might not even aware of the game we are playing.   Yet we judge them and feel superior.

The prison door is not locked. Come on out and breathe the fresh air of freedom. “For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver.” 1 Pet 1:18


PS:  If you’re wondering how we are to please the Lord, ask the Lord to show you in your reading of His word.  I’m starting with just taking Him at His Word, believing what He says and resting in that.