Hearing a Beatles song today reminded me of a lesson I learned as a kid. “You Never Give Me Your Money” finishes with an English children’s rhyme.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
All good children go to heaven.
I learned in a legalistic church that my eternal destiny was determined to a large extent by my performance. I had to be good. I had to do my part. The performance message was reinforced all around me in church and in life..
If you eat your vegetables you can have dessert.
If you are good you get toys at Christmas.
If you get all A’s you will get a monetary reward.
If you behave your parents will be proud of you.
So I learned to perform to get rewards and affirmation. Performance addiction is easy in legalism because you always have someone willing (and extremely happy) to challenge how well you are doing and where you can improve. So I performed. I tried hard. Then harder. Like most addicts I got tired and sad and desperate. I was on the verge of accepting that this journey with Jesus is a lot of begrudging compliance and non-stop confession of sins both real and imagined. The supposed joy that I was promised was hard to find. Then something happened.
I heard a message that I had probably heard before but my heart was prepared this time for the seed of freedom to flourish.
That there is actually nothing I can do to improve my eternal odds. The work of Jesus on the Cross is finished. I am forgiven. The Biblical texts on forgiveness are past tense.
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32, NLT
You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for He forgave all our sins. Colossians 2:13
I am writing to you who are God’s children because your sins have been forgiven through Jesus. 1 John 2:12
Jesus died for past, present and future sins. I used to agonize over unconfessed sin. What if I forgot something? What if I was unaware of some sin? What if I died with unresolved sin? I made it so hard when all along the eternally patient voice of Jesus was saying “relax”.
“It is finished.”
“My work on the Cross is complete and forever.”
“You are forgiven once and for all.”
I contribute nothing to that except my need for a Savior and my abundant sin. I wrote this in Waking Up Slowly.
The uniqueness of grace for a follower of Christ is that God already knows everything about me (and you) and He loves us exactly the same on our best or worst day. Don’t rush past that truth for Christians. Read it again.
God knows everything about you, and He loves you exactly the same on your best or worst day.
I don’t have to fight a battle that has already been won. I can relax in the finished work of Christ.
The answer to performance addiction can be found in two simple words.
Two more words come to mind.