Tuesday, May 8, 2018
Are You Trying to Measure Up?
Gal. 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20 and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.
The Judaizers were trying to convince the Galatians that they would be righteous if they obeyed the law. Paul’s response is very personal and here I personalize it as well:
The law condemned me for through the law I knew that I was a sinner. The law could never set me free from my sinfulness, it could only show me where I was wrong. I was condemned through the law and any attempt to satisfy the law through my own behavior was simply futile. Therefore, if we continue to live trying to satisfy the law we will be condemned.
The law extends no grace. Grace unfolds through the action of Christ crucified, through which God’s love and grace are poured out to such an extent that had I been the only one in need of salvation, Christ would have died for me. It’s only by the grace and sacrifice of Christ that I am then set free from the condemnation of the law. Therefore I am no longer driven to live by the law which condemns, but by faith in Jesus Christ who has the power to set me free.
Martin Luther on Galatians tells us, “By faith in Christ a person may gain such sure and sound comfort, that he need not fear the devil, sin, death, or any evil. ‘Sir Devil,’ he may say, ‘I am not afraid of you. I have a Friend whose name is Jesus Christ, in whom I believe. He has abolished the Law, condemned sin, vanquished death, and destroyed hell for me. He is bigger than you, Satan. He has licked you, and holds you down. You cannot hurt me.” This is the faith that overcomes the devil.’”
My husband tells me that it’s fascinating to watch women in line at a grocery store. He claims that they are measuring each other up and trying to see where they fall in comparison. Maybe it’s why there are so many tabloid magazines sold at the check-out as well, because there we find public figures with whom we try to measure up! I’m not sure that I’m entirely convinced of this, but there may be some truth to his observation. Could it be that we are often trying to figure out whether we measure up to other people?
Issues of anxiety and poor self-confidence threaten Christ-followers. We can become frozen with fear and unable to faithfully engage in kingdom business when the enemy begins to tell us that we are not good enough. When we compare ourselves to others, or to a standard that is beyond our reach, we will never feel good enough. Maybe it’s time that we understand grace and living graciously.
The only standard for our lives is Christlikeness, and this can never be obtained through our own effort. If we think that we can make ourselves like Christ we become bound to the law just as tightly as those with whom Paul was speaking. At the same time, if we understand that Christ has set us free to become all that he created us to be in him, we can live without guilt. This is the beauty of the Christian life that is promised to those who no longer live in the flesh, but “by faith in the Son of God.” God loves us so much that he provides us with everything necessary to flourish. Anxiety and self-condemnation are crucified to the old ways of the law when we put on Christ.
We will never be able to measure up, for that is the weight of the law. Joy is found in Christ who invites us into a relationship where becoming like Christ is simply reflecting him as a mirror. The mirror doesn’t have to become Christ, the mirror simply needs to face in the direction of Christ. Being drawn closer through love and grace, the reflection of Christ continues to grow, not by human effort, but by nearness of relationship. There is no human effort that creates the reflection, only gracefully standing nose to nose in a loving relationship with my Savior.
Lord, may I not try to measure up to anyone else, but be continually drawn closer to you, reflecting you in my life. Amen.