By Gena Barnhill @BarnhillGena
Do you know people who believe they must work harder to gain God’s acceptance and forgiveness for their mistakes?
Over forty years ago, that person was me. I believed the enemy’s lie that I needed to perform to gain the Lord’s approval. I did not realize I was working for something the Lord had already given me. I was unaware of my true identity in Christ. Striving to be good enough is exhausting, and it never works. We set ourselves up for an unattainable goal.
The danger in a performance-based mindset is we can become attached to the approval or rejection of others. This can open the door to the enemy and his lies about us. The only approval we need is the Lord’s. We already have His approval. Yet, we often try to earn what He, in His mercy, already gave us. Psalm 139 assures states God knew us before we were born, and He intimately knows and cares for us.
When we seek success by trying to perform perfectly, success can become an idol. Anything or anyone we put ahead of God is an idol. God created us in excellence. The enemy distorts this truth and tries to get us to believe we need to be perfect to gain the Lord’s approval. When we strive to gain God’s approval, we are not secure in our true identity in Christ.
Our spiritual identity is in Christ and is based on His finished work on the cross, not on our performance or merit. Ephesians 1: 3-6 (ESV) tell us we have been adopted into God’s family through Jesus.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
Ephesians 2:19 says: So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. We have been adopted into God’s family.
When speaking about the Lord in 2 Corinthians 12:9, Paul wrote: But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. We can take comfort in our inadequacies because they remind us of our total dependence on God.
God’s view of success is seeking a relationship with Him and allowing His power to be made perfect in us. The enemy wants us to believe that we must compare ourselves to others so that we feel unworthy and either spend enormous energy striving for perfection or giving up. Either result keeps us separated from God, which is the enemy’s ultimate goal.
Second Corinthians 9:8 says: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. God, in His grace and mercy, has given us all we need.
The Scriptures tell us we are:
R– recognizing our striving behavior and acknowledging we need true freedom in Christ.
E– engaging with the Lord in prayer and repenting for striving. He promises forgiveness when we truly repent.
S- staying in His presence. Ask the Lord to show you how to abide in Him. Find Bible verses that describe who I am in Christ and repeat who I am in Christ affirmations.
T– thanking the Lord for His grace and power that works best in our weaknesses. Say to the Lord, “I acknowledge my true identity and thank You for who I am in Christ.
Before I share a prayer with you, I would love for you to have an opportunity to chime in with your thoughts. How have you seen a performance mindset and striving for perfection impact yourself or others?
Be sure to share your thoughts in our Facebook Group Healing Prayer Discussion.
We are all stronger when we learn from each other. Looking forward to your input.
Lord, I come to You acknowledging that I have not always walked in my true identity as a child of God. Please forgive me for trying to gain what You already freely gave me when You chose and adopted me into Your family. Help me to abide and rest in You. I do believe that Your grace is sufficient for me, and Your power is demonstrated through my weakness. I am totally dependent on You. When the enemy tries to tell me that I need to strive more to overcome my weaknesses, remind me of who You say I am: Your chosen, adopted, loved, redeemed, and forgiven child.