If God loves me independent of my performance, why should I live holy? What’s the purpose of maturing if God blesses me because He is good and not because I do good? This is one of the most interesting apparent paradoxes in the Bible. I say apparent because those of us who grew up under a lot of religious bondage and legalism really enjoy the freedom of the message of grace. When we finally realize we don’t have to do good in order to be loved or accepted by God it changes our world. This takes away the need to perform for God so we can rest in all of His goodness and quit striving to never mess up.
With all that said, once we have accepted God’s grace by receiving Jesus as Lord, God expects us to act like sons. That’s the paradox! His grace is for us independent of our performance, yet He wants us to act like Him. It’s important we understand that He doesn’t want us to mature in order to earn favor or blessings, He wants us to mature because His heart’s cry is for us to do life the way He does life. I bring this up because I teach on grace a lot. I probably need to teach on it more because people still don’t get it, but there is a danger that people fall into the lie that “I’m under grace, don’t expect nothing out of me. I don’t have to do anything good and if you expect it, it’s legalism.”
Faithfulness, acts of obedience, loving and serving others isn’t legalism. It’s the fruit of having our heart so transformed by the love and mercy of God that we can’t not bless someone. It’s the, “I don’t want to let others down because I so love them that it hurts my heart to let them and Jesus down attitude.”
There is a season when those of us who grew up under legalism and finally learn that God moves independent of our performance can cop an attitude toward people who expect things from us. We sorta think, ” God loves me no matter what I do so don’t put me under the bondage of growing up and if I treat you bad then deal with it. Jesus forgives me, so should you.” I get it because I went through it. It’s a necessary season many of us have to go through to break free from the bondage of legalism and trying to do good in order to get good, but ultimately its an immature attitude.
God’s hope is that we grow from that and do good and love and serve and are faithful because that’s just who we are. We do out of our being as righteous in Him and don’t do in order to be righteous. I’m a son and I can never lose that no matter what I do, but my Father’s goal is for me to be like Him.
There are two Greek words used in the New Testament to describe sons. The first is teknon which basically means son by birthright. My two children will always be my teknon. The other word is huios which means son by characteristic. This is my goal for each of them. I want people to discern me by the way they are kind, the way they treat people, and the way they believe God. This is God’s goal for us. God wants people to see Him when they see us!
I hope this article blessed you! If you’d like to learn more about maturing in Christ, check out this series I taught on Sonship at Grace Life Church!