Teach me, Father, the difference
between my own efforts to please
You and Your Holy Spirit living His
life of obedience in me.
The difference, My child, between your life and Mine cannot be measured. They are as different as hope and despair, as love and hate, as life and death. Your efforts to please Me originate from the belief that you can earn My favor and pay back a debt you owe. You may actually think that you have something of value to offer Me…Me, your Creator. You feel that you owe Me your best efforts after all I have done for you.
Do you remember how helpless you found yourself when you saw your sin and realized your need for a Savior? You were hopeless and bankrupt. You came to Me with nothing to offer except your willingness to turn from running your own life and receiving Mine in its place. You surrendered yourself in response to My call to your heart.
You have no more to offer Me now than you did then. You are just as helpless and hopeless to walk out this new life as you were to enter it on your own.
There are some telltale signs when you are trying to walk this path in your own strength. Your efforts are accompanied by a sense of measuring and earning favor. They are motivated often by guilt and expectations pressed on you from someone else. They hold the snare of pride, of wanting to be seen by others as a more spiritual or committed Christian. You compare yourself with others. When the day is done there is often either a self-congratulatory pat on the back or nagging guilt that you could have done more. You burn out. There is very little peace or rest. You are rarely filled with gratitude.
My spirit in you produces something very different. Even if the outward actions are very similar, they originate in Me instead of you. The motivation comes from a sense of purpose far greater than the apparent effect of the obedience. There is a sense of joining with Me in carrying out My work in perhaps a very small way, but it is vital and real. Rather than feeling like you MUST do this or that, you are excited and humbled that I would include you in the work. I will sometimes call on you to begin to obey My voice without feeling you have the strength, but as you take that step you find My grace gives you what you need to continue on. You do not care if anyone else knows what your obedience was or what effect it had, as long as I am pleased. You are walking in a living connection with Me that invades the smallest and most ordinary parts of your day. You experience great peace and rest even in the midst of struggles or confusion because you know I hold your hand. You are profoundly grateful for everything, the things that are good and the things that do not seem so, because you know nothing can touch you outside of Me.
Life in the Spirit, united with Me, filled with My Holy Spirit, abiding in Me are descriptions of the life I have provided. This is not some super-charged Christian experience. It is what I provide as the normal life available to every single one of My born-again children. This is the freedom I died and rose again to provide for you. You need no longer labor under the Law or under a set of expectations to please Me. You need only to trust Me to complete all that I have promised. You are heirs of a new covenant and have inherited My promise of a new heart and life in union with Me. Come to Me, empty of yourself and your efforts, and receive all that I have provided. Only then will you know the abundant life I desire for you. Come.