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My church had a series on this topic not long ago (shoutout to—you can check out the full sermon series here), and I was reminded of how easily I forget about this.

I have to do better.

I haven’t read my Bible in 3 days. God has to be disappointed in me.

She keeps messing up. What a failure.

Sound familiar? When we think these things, we are showing how religious we are. We measure our spirituality by how much we read the Bible, how often we go to church, or whether we do the right things. This is the same thing the religious leaders did in Jesus’s day, the same people who hated Jesus and wanted him dead.

How blind they were! And how blind we are, too, if we think that we are better or worse than the next person if we do or don’t do something.

The truth is, God doesn’t want our actions. He doesn’t think we’re better for not cussing today. Nothing we do will be enough for Him. When we start judging others and ourselves by our achievements, we forget what God’s grace is about and start living by the rules. And let’s be honest, we can’t keep all the rules. Paul says in Romans 6 that since we can’t live by the rules, if we didn’t have God’s grace, we’d be doomed. So, honestly, it doesn’t really matter how many times you’ve failed. You’ve already failed at least once too many for you to be righteous on your own.

We all need Jesus. Without Him, we’d be doomed no matter what we did. But with His grace, we are free to live without judgment or shame. When we mess up, we can confess to Him and move on.

God values our relationship with Him so much more than our actions. He wants our hearts. While the rules are there for our own good, they aren’t there with the expectation that we will keep them all the time.

So instead of beating ourselves up about not praying long enough, we can thank God for His forgiveness and move on. It’s a much better way to live.

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