There I go again, thinking that because Galatians 6 says that each of us should “carry his own load,” that it actually means I’m somehow on my own.
“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Selah. Our God is a God who saves; from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from death.” ~Psalm 68:19-20 (NIV)
What I’ve learned is that, not only are these not a contradiction, they are two sides of one great Truth. One side is the command and direction of God, the other is the fact that we cannot do what he commands. We are utterly incapable.
There is not one thing we can do to meet the high, holy standards of God. As long as we live in fleshly, finite bodies, we will fail. So, where God commands, he also enables. In fact, he does more than that. For the surrendered soul, he simply does it for us, in us, and through us.
We can take zero credit for the good we do.
I have spent most of my life completely intimidated and overwhelmed, trying to meet God’s standards out of my love for him. Somehow believing the well-intentioned fallacy that if I just do my best, God will somehow take care of the rest.
I don’t know where or how we Christians came to believe that lie.
God doesn’t take care of “the rest.” He took care of it all, on the Cross and through his resurrection! He left no stone unturned, no loose ends, no room for us to fail. What part of “It is finished,” do we not understand?!
The Bible is pretty clear that we are totally incapable of true goodness. Even if what we do is “good,” our motivations are wrong and selfish, which taints the good we do, and turns it into simple hypocrisy. True righteousness can only come from Righteousness Himself, in the person of Christ Jesus, through the work of the Holy Spirit in and through us.
God doesn’t need us to “be good.”
God needs us to be surrendered and willing. To realize that though our spirits are willing enough, our flesh is weak. Really, our flesh ought to be dead, so that there is that much more room for the Holy Spirit to do God’s good works in us. (Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5, 1 Peter 2:24)
This has become a comfort to me.
To know that everything God asks of me to do, he expects me to get out of the way and let him do it in me. He does more than just strengthen, equip, and enable me. He goes beyond that.
“May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.” ~1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV)
I am not found blameless because I am able to be blameless, but because I will be kept blameless by the God of Peace, Jesus Christ! It is the God of Peace who sanctifies me, through and through. See?! No room for me to mess up!
The one who calls me is faithful, and HE WILL DO IT.
What part of that sounds like it agrees with “Do your best, and God will take care of the rest?!”
Think about it.
Everyday, he asks to carry my burdens. Everyday, he asks me to lay myself down as a living sacrifice, die to myself, and let Jesus live in me.
Everyday, he knows I am incapable. Everyday, he shows mercy and uses me anyway, because he has taken on the responsibility of everything good in me. He has lifted that burden.
Everyday, as I surrender, he saves me from true death, and the only thing that dies in me is my flesh and my sin. I escape death the moment I lay myself down to die.
What freedom there is in surrender! What jubilant triumph and victory and joy! No wonder his burden is light – he carries all of it!
The only cliche I can think of that holds some truth to it is, “Let go, and let God.” What else is there, really, that we can do?
Praise God for his great goodness, kindness, and mercy!
Grace & Peace,