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Now let us consider the times when we examine ourselves and we may think:- "I'm not doing enough for the Lord. I'm not reading the bible enough, praying, witnessing enough etc. etc."
What we are doing here is concentrating on our performance. We may feel fed up with ourselves because we are not very holy. We feel we must do more to be like Jesus. Before I continue let me clarify what I mean . Yes I agree that as Christians we should desire to do more for the Lord . But whilst that is true we should not fall into condemnation when we compare our present state to how we know we ought to be. I am not for one moment suggesting that we should be self-satisfied and not be interested in doing our best to serve the Lord.
If we blame ourselves severely that we are not doing enough then we may try harder to do more. We might try doing great works in order to show that we love the Lord. We may strive to be better and better, but all the time we feel that whatever we do is unsatisfactory. And so then we get more and more frustrated with ourselves.
What we have to appreciate is that our right-standing before God is not based on the works we do. God accepts us and receives us by His grace because we are in Christ Jesus. Jesus is our righteousness and makes us holy before God.
What we also have to understand is that in our own strength we can do nothing. (John 15 v 5) We need Christ's strength to do all that we need to do. We can't pray or serve or anything without Him. But as we recognise Jesus freely gives us everything we need we will do lots of good works.
I'll finish this chapter with an illustration which I remember reading in the book 'The Normal Christian Life' by Watchman Nee (re-told in my own words: -):-
A man who could not swim fell into a river. He
was spluttering and crying for help as he kept disappearing under the water.
All should have been well, because a friend who was a strong swimmer, was close
by on the riverbank. But this friend did not jump into the water, but just
stood on the bank and watched the man struggling in the water. Several long
moments past by and it looked like the spluttering man was going to drown. Then
at the last minute the strong swimmer jumped into the river and grabbed his
friend and pulled him to safety. But why had this man waited so, so long before
he came to the rescue? The answer - when the man fell into the water he was
panicking and struggling wildly: If the friend had jumped in then the man would
have fiercely grabbed hold of him and dragged him under the water with himself.
So the friend waited until he was worn out. When he had ceased struggling he
could be reached and lifted out.