I bet you’ve heard it said, “Do your best and then God will do the rest.” You know why this sounds like music in our ears? Not only does it rime nicely, it actually gives us control of our lives – we can determine the outcome of our life.
But guess what lies at the root of this idea of “Do your best and trust God to do the rest?” A legalistic mindset. Thus, it’s nothing more then an outright lie!
This lie gets told in a variety of different ways,
- “You need to do your part in the Christian life”
- “If you do your part – God will do the rest”
- “If you work hard for God – He’ll be faithful and work hard for you”
This is a typical combination of the flesh and faith and the two don’t work together.
To put it straightforward, your Christian walk is not about you working together with God to help God out nor is God working together with you to help you out.
Rather, your Christian life is the indwelling Christ living in you expressing Himself through you and He does it all.
If you allow Christ to live through you, He will energize and animate your behavior without you doing your part or you doing your best to live like Christ.
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Why Is This Lie Dangerous For You?
Why is this lie dangerous? Why should we trash this idea of “you should do your best and God will do the rest?”
When you believe this lie, it’s like getting on the religious treadmill of religious activity. You hop on and start walking…slowly at first…going to church reading your Bible – “doing your part,” “doing your best.”
Then you see other Christians who look like they’re doing a better job than you – maybe reading the Bible more or praying more intensely or sharing their faith more openly or singing in the choir or helping more people who are in need. So now you start to “jog” on the treadmill to catch up – “if that’s them doing their part – then I should be doing at least that.”
Next, you notice that the Christians in your Bible study all have a quiet time that’s double yours – you start to speed up – they tithe more money than you – you’re running now – oh, that one Christian mother makes it look so easy parenting her family of five – so you’re now in a full on sprint desperately trying to “do your part” of religious activity.
Then it happens! BANG! You burn out – you can’t keep sprinting – running full force forever.
And then it sets in – Satan is right there next to the treadmill like some demonic Richard Simmons, ready to jump in and heap condemnation and guilt and shame on you.
He tells you you’re such a poor Christian because you can’t do your part…you don’t do enough your best…you can’t “run the race” faithfully like everyone else who is a Christian. “God can never use you” he’ll say – “You can’t even do your part!”
Beloved, is this what Christ spoke of when He said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30)?
What Is Your Christian Life About?
Let me be plain and tell you what your Christian life is not about and what it is about.
The Christian life is NOT about you “helping” God accomplish His will – the Creator of everything is MORE than capable of helping Himself. So it’s not about you working together with God to help God out.
And the Christian life is NOT about God “helping” you in your life either – like God is your life coach. It’s not about “doing your part” and letting God take up the slack.
It’s not about treating God like an investment vehicle, i.e., “I do this for God and He’ll do this for me.”
Still someone might say, “Yes, but I’ve heard it said that God helps those who help themselves.”
Contrary to popular belief, this saying that “God helps those who help themselves” is not in the Bible! God does not help those who help themselves. He helps those who are helpless and dependent on Him. He helps those who look to Him as their only source of strength and help.
Now on to what the Christian life is about…The Christian life is about receiving salvation and with it the very life of Christ and then letting this indwelling Christ express Himself through you moment by moment, each and every day.
Paul says in Romans 15:18:
I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done.
It is everything CHRIST and Christ ALONE is doing through you. What is your part? Your only “job” in the Christian life is to believe. To have faith that Christ is doing this through you and that He WILL do it. And rest assured – He will be faithful to do it!
Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:24:
The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it.
Notice you don’t find any notion in this verse that hints to you doing your best, you being faithful enough in order that God will take up the slack and do the rest. No.
You can stop believing this lie that you have to “do your best” or that you have to “do your part.” Get off that religious treadmill and embrace what Christ wants to do through you by being open to His leading moment by moment each and every day. Jesus Christ does it all!
How Do You Manifest The Kingdom?
You might say, “You’re saying that our Christian walk is not about us working together with God to help God or God working together with us to help us…but I thought we are actually called to work together with God to bring transformation on earth?”
That’s right, we are called to work together with God. However, we are not called to work together with God from the standpoint to help Him out as if He needs our help and support to accomplish His plan on earth.
You see, there are two primair ways to view how God’s Kingdom is established on earth.
One is law-oriented; the other is grace-oriented.
How is God’s Kingdom – that is the manifestation of God’s ruling presence – manifest?
The law-oriented person might say it’s God who does all the work but at the same time he or she will point to you, emphasizing that you need to play your part or else you might hinder God’s plans. Yikes! Since you sincerely desire to do the will of God and want to help spread His Kingdom – thus not hinder His plans – you start to do your best so that God can do the rest, right?
Can you see that this approach will quickly become an unbearable yoke. That’s obviously not what Christ had in mind as He said, “My yoke is easy.”
Here’s the right view, that is the grace-oriented view, on how God’s ruling presence is manifest on earth.
A grace-oriented person also says that it’s God who does all the work. But then, instead of putting you on the religious treadmill he or she will point you to Christ, emphasizing that He IS the manifestation of God’s ruling presence – that He will be faithful to establish the Kingdom of God through you, without you getting burned out, because He will do it all!
In taking the law approach we are the ones helping God out and consequently we are getting the glory.
In taking the grace approach God is the one helping us out and consequently He is getting all the glory.
Now the question is: do you have a law orientation or a grace orientation? There’s no middle ground.
In short, even though God does not need our help or support, He will work through any believer who chooses to walk by faith.
Let’s listen to C.S. Lewis to underline what we’re talking about:
Almighty God, just because He is almighty, needs no support. The picture of a nervous, ingratiating God flattering over men to win their favor is not a pleasant one; yet we see to be a popular conception of God. So high is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, not to say enjoyable to believe that we are necessary to God. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be less if we did not exist. Probably the hardest thought of all our natural egoism to entertain is that God does not need our help. We commonly represent Him as a busy, eager, somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His dear plan to bring peace and salvation to the world. The God who worked all things surely needs no help and no helpers. To many missionary appeals are based upon this imaginary frustration of Almighty God. An effective speaker can easily excite pity in his hearers, not only for the unbeliever but for the God who has tried so hard and so long to save them and has failed for want of support. I fear that thousands of young people enter Christian service from no higher motive than to help deliver God from the embarrassing situation His love has got Him into and His limited abilities seem unable to get Him out of…The blessed news is that the God who needs no one has in sovereign arrogance stooped to work by and in and through His obedient children. If this appears self-contradictory – amen, so be it. Truth sometimes requiring us to believe apparent opposites. He needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone.
To Sum Up
The quote “Do your best and then God will do the rest” may sound nice, but is a lie that if believed will keep you on the religious treadmill.
Your Christian walk is not about you working hard for God so that He’ll be faithful and work hard for you.
Your life calling is not about you working together with God to help Him out as if He is a somewhat frustrated Father hurrying about seeking help to carry out His dear plan to establish His Kingdom on earth.
The truth is that God does not need your help for you are not necessary for Him. He is almighty and does not need your support, sweat and tears. However, even though God needs no one, when faith is present He’ll work through anyone.
So what is your part? Your job is to be a living conduit of the ruling presence of God to manifest. How do you do that? By resting in the Christ and His finished work.
Simply put, to believe that Christ is doing this through you – and that He is faithful to bring the Kingdom of God about as He will energize and animate your behavior without you doing your part or you doing your best to live the Christian life.
So as it is written, let it be done,
P.S. In two weeks I’ll submit some thoughts about how you can benefit from the New Covenant of grace to see that you are empowered to be well and do well for your own good and for the good of other people through you. Stay tuned!