If I had my druthers, I'd be a professional student; I love to learn. It's the very thing I learned on that first day of school when I handed Ms. Human a perfectly five-year-old self portrait, and earned my first A. It wasn't long before I had it down pat: listen carefully to the expectations, go home and follow those directions, return to class and give it all you've got, then wait for the A with confidence.
Since my school days, I've graduated to list-making: clear expectations, measurable accomplishments, and quick, concise feedback. A list perfectly crossed off by bedtime. 3.74. That's 93.9%. It's a measure...one that means I did pretty
The problem is, after graduation, life doesn't come with a syllabus. There are no professor, no report cards, no red numbers and letters at the top of my work deeming me excellent. The only red letters I have now measuring my deeds are the ones Jesus spoke. His commands. His encouragement. His wisdom and Holy Spirit empowerment for my tasks. His mercy and grace.
These things aren't accolades earned for a job well done. They're gifts received with humble gratitude. I'm much better at the former, and still learning the art of the latter. Overachieving is easy. I guess that's why I keep running into my need for validation, and discovering my propensity for pridefully trying to earn it.
It's nothing more than the coward's way. It takes courage to merely accept validity, while unworthy, with humble heart and hands. We don't really want to be unworthy, do we. We don't want to have to turn to a bloody sacrifice on a cross, dressed up though we may be in our Easter finery. The cross is so desperate and despicable. Even the Father looked away.
7.34 is a lie. There is no such thing as 93.9%. Jesus paid it all, and I owe nothing. My deeds? They'll be tried by fire and either burn or remain, one or the other, based on whether or not those deeds were painted by Christ.
He indeed validates, but only when He increases and I decrease until He is everything and I am nothing. I know this in my head, could ace the test in a classroom. But in real life, I think I may still be failing.
What things do you do to earn favor? to feel approved?
The bad news is that if you seek anywhere else than Christ, you will have found a love idol.
Jennifer Dukes Lee has written a book to help us discover our subtle #loveidols. They can take myriad forms and take over our lives. They rob us of real freedom in Christ and bind us to our own efforts. So Jennifer is starting a Love Idol Movement to help us oust those pesky idols and remind us we are #preapproved.
That kindergarten selfie above? Well, it's a selfie, and that's the problem. I know I'll be more satisfied with the end result if I would do nothing myselfie and let God paint the portrait of me.
To join Jennifer and me and countless others determined to worship nothing and no one but the Lord, you can pre-order Love Idol: Letting Go of Your Need for Approval and Seeing Yourself Through God's Eyes here and find community in the Love Idol Movement Facebook group here.
So, come on—join us. What have you got to lose except yellow teeth, bad highlights, and leaning eerily off kilter?