It's Never Enough
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This I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment. (Phil. 1:9)
Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God. . . .We urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more. (1 Thess. 4:1, 10)
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Whatever we do for the Lord, it’s never enough. There is always more service to render; more patience to practice; more love to give to others; more wisdom to learn, more truth to understand, more maturity to grow in. No matter what we have accomplished in the past, there is still more that needs to be done. That's why we can never cease pushing forward.
Some Christians struggle with this concept. If our salvation depends on our obedience, and our obedience is never enough, then how can we have confidence in our salvation? That kind of thinking causes some people to sink into depression. They are paralyzed by a fear that they're not good enough, that God's wrath awaits them for their inadequacies.
The flaw in this thinking can be seen in the first premise: "our salvation depends on our obedience." That's not true. Our obedience is a response to our salvation, not the means of it. There is a world of difference between those two concepts, and until we understand that distinction, we will remain miserable and frustrated.
If there is one proposition that stands out in the writings of the apostles, it's that our performance will never be good enough for God (Rom. 3:20; 7:14-23; Gal. 3:10-12; Phil. 3:9-12; Tit. 3:4-5; 1 Jn. 1:8-10; etc.). "All have sinned and fall short [present tense] of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). We have to purge our minds of the false doctrine that our obedience earns our salvation.
Why, then, do we obey God? The correct motivation is gratitude, not merit. We obey God from a heart that is overwhelmed by the undeserved grace that He has extended to us in His Son. We are kind to others, because He has been so kind to us. We are generous with our possessions, because Jesus gave up everything to pay the price for our sins. We live a life of self-restraint, because although Jesus was tempted to abandon us, He resisted to the bitter end, and sacrificed His perfect life for people who were so imperfect.
We owe Him everything, and more. Yet all the obedience we can muster can never repay God for the magnificent gift He has bestowed upon us in His Son.
The knowledge that our obedience is always incomplete should teach us humility, a humility rooted in appreciation, not servitude. Once we learn that principle, we can face every new day with joy, happy to do more and more for the One who has done so much for us.