I’m Not Good Enough and I’m Not Smart Enough
Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love.
Perhaps you remember the Saturday Night Live character known as Stuart Smalley. He starred in a fictional self-help program called "Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley." The featured affirmation in each Stuart Smalley segment was his motto: "I'm good enough. I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."
Though you and I may not aspire to be like Stuart Smalley, there are times when we are tempted to imitate his self-affirmation, especially when it comes to our relationship with God. We can believe that God will like us, not to mention save us, if we are just good enough and smart enough. The "good enough" part motivates us to avoid sin and to do good deeds. The "smart enough" part drives us to get our theology right.
Now, there's nothing wrong with good deeds and true theology. In fact, both of these are essential to mature faith. But if we see these as ways to earn God's salvation, then we are sadly mistaken. The cry of the psalm writer in Psalm 109:26 points us toward the truth: "Help me, O LORD my God! Save me because of your unfailing love." Why should God save us? Not because we are good enough. Nor because we are smart enough. But because of God's own "unfailing love." Other translations prefer "steadfast love" for the English rendering of the Hebrew word chesed. No matter the translation, however, the point is clear. We are saved because of God and his love. We are not saved because we are good enough, smart enough, well-liked, or anything else. We are saved by grace alone (Eph. 2:8).
This means that if we are not good enough, smart enough, and liked enough, we do not have to be afraid of God's rejection. We don't have to try and get our act together in order to be in relationship with the living God. Rather, we need simply to put our trust in God's amazing grace, to open our lives to him so that we might get our act together through the power of his Spirit. Moreover, Psalm 109:26 reminds us that God doesn't just like us. Rather, he loves us with an unfailing, steadfast love. As we read in Romans 8:39, there is nothing in all creation that can separate us from God's love for us in Christ.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Are you trying to be good enough for God? Are you trying to be smart enough for God? Do you think God will love you more if you do good things and avoid bad things? How might your life be different if you took to heart the good news of God's love for you, a love that depends on God's character and not your own?
PRAYER: Gracious God, thank you for your love and grace. Thank you for saving me when I don't deserve it. Thank you for setting me free from the bondage of trying to earn your favor through my own goodness and intellect. Thank you for your unfailing love, for saving me when I am not good enough or smart enough. Thank you for loving me with an unfailing love. Help me, dear Lord, to live today in response to your grace, to offer my life to you, not in order to be good enough, but because of all the goodness you have given me through Christ. Amen.
Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype
When we think of “leadership” or “influence,” we often get the image of a person of arrogant swagger, always self-confidently willing to tell people what they ought to do. And we naturally find such an image unseemly. This is not the image of Jesus, the most influential person who walked the planet. Neither is it the image of those we truly admire and can name were the most influential people in our own lives. In this week's series at The High Calling, Leadership Influence: Beyond the Stereotype, we feature stories of how people can be influential in ways that really matter.
Featured image above by Jhong Dizon. Used with Permission. Via Flickr.