“And be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith” (Phil. 3:9).
I walked through my bedroom door patting myself on the back and feeling quite pleased about what a great job I had done with the kids that day. It was true.
I was kind, patient and loving all while being exhausted and dealing with exhausted cranky children.
I was delighting in my goodness; proud of my great accomplishments.
Then it crept in. My mind dwelled on the idea that God must be really pleased with me and my actions. Believing that because of the great day that I had with my kids I was just a little bit more loved, a little bit godlier.
You might say "What's wrong with being good?" or "Why can't you just enjoy the fact that you had a good day?"
Shouldn't we all be good for goodness sake? Isn't that what this Christian life is about? Finding our kindness and sharing it with others?
The Christian life is not about me being good, it is about my utter dependence on the God that saved my soul by sending His son to live the life I couldn’t live, to die for my failures, and to be resurrected for my justification that I couldn’t earn. It's about remembering that I am a sinner who, by the grace of God, has been given the righteous record of Christ by faith so that I don't have to earn my way. Anything good that comes from me is a result of the work of Christ who lives in me.
The Christian life is not about trying harder to be good but rather worshipping the only One who truly is good.
When we start to believe that the goodness that comes out of us is something that we have manufactured or something that can get us closer to God then it all becomes about us; it becomes about earning our way by climbing a ladder of works and forgetting that the way has already been earned. We struggle against the flesh, and that means our tendency toward self-righteousness.
We are prone to take what God has given us and call it our own. Our heart desires acceptance. Our heart wants to justify itself.
Some days, like yesterday, our hearts desire a ladder to climb because we’re sure that we’re doing great and will make it to the top. Other days, like today, the rungs of that ladder seem to break every moment we try to do something good.
But the gospel...the glorious, honest gospel comes and destroys the ladder. It tells me, it tells us, that there is no climbing into heaven by good works. The gospel tells us there is no more failure, no more striving, no more broken rungs. Jesus said, “It is finished.” And it truly is finished.
Christ came and smashed that ladder across His knee by fulfilling every work on my behalf, by forgiving every rung broken in failure and every rung climbed in self-righteousness. There is no more ladder!
So, what should we do with the good days? The same thing that we do with the bad:
Remember what Christ has done and rest in His goodness in our place.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt 11:28-29).