Performance Police

I am so thankful for our highway patrol, and for the safety in which they so dutifully work to ensure on our highways. However, as I traveled home from a neighboring city recently, minding my own business and rockin’ out to Praise and Worship music, I noticed in my rear-view mirror what appeared to be a highway patrol unit closing in more rapidly than at normal speed, but without flashing lights. 

My speed was set on 65 . . . okay, 66. I knew my tag was in date. I had not run any red lights, crossed any lines, nor had I cut anyone off in traffic. Yet, he followed so closely for several miles and I guessed he might have been running my tag; for what reason, I did not know. Therefore, I waited to see what would happen, but was—in the meantime—more nervous than usual, (why is that) making my journey home much less enjoyable than I usually find it to be.

I immediately changed positions from a relaxed left-handed, "high noon" grip of the wheel to the more rigid "10 and 2" position. Meanwhile, as I frequently checked my rearview and side view mirrors, I thought of how much this instance reminded me of how I operated in my faith journey years ago when encumbered by the Law, also known as legalism, and how much it too removed the joy from my journey. I clung unto many legalistic beliefs, holding me to a harsh standard, knowing that if I “crossed a line” it would have counted against my behavioral record, lowering my overall performance grade as well as my “approval rating" in the heavenlies. 

Legalism does not always approach with flashing lights. Yet, I felt I always had to put on my best performance, vigilantly walking the straight and narrow with such adherence, I made myself miserable, as well as those around me. I felt as though I had my own personal religious police closely following me at all times, and that somehow this empowered me to "warn others" using similar techniques.  Additionally, I believed that my faith was of my own making. Therefore, if I messed up, it was my fault; if I won a small victory, it was because of me. 

Seventeenth century Bible commentator Matthew Henry said,  

"When I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance, I live by the faith of adherence."
How true that is. You could easily flip that sentence as well. 

“When I live by the faith of adherence, I cannot enjoy the faith of assurance.” 

The antidote for such religious performance for me was GRACE, and a healthy dose of it. 
 "For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ." (John 1:17)
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Eph. 2:8-9 
The beauty of God’s grace is that there are no "boundaries", only the freedom to receive so much more than we deserve--His mercy, love, forgiveness, healing, protection, provision, and every spiritual blessing and promise from His Word. He desires for you to be sealed in His Spirit for all time, resting in the assurance of the God’s eternal promises for those who place their faith in Him. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. In Him we have abundant life. (John 14:6, John 10:10)
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.  For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did…” (Romans 8:1-3)
I confess that grace theology used to drive me crazy believing that it gave people a license to sin, and this legalist chick just couldn’t deal with that. However, the more I understood His grace, the more I recognized that anyone who has truly been redeemed by Jesus Christ will not desire to live a life of continuous, willful sin, because the Spirit of Christ in them reminds them of the righteousness they have in Him. Therefore, I could finally hang up that hang-up. Good riddance! 
"For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be!" (Romans 6:14-15) 

The highway patrol officer never stopped me that day, nor did I ever know why he followed me so closely, other than for me to remind me of the confines of legalism and the freedom of GRACE. 

And although legalism still rears its ugly head on occasion, I’m now armed with the truth of God’s Word concerning GRACE. Consequently, this woman plans to spend the final miles of my faith journey (and many, I hope) enjoying the freedom I have in Christ, in the praise and worship that flows from a heart deeply in love with her Savior.

“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.” (Jude 24)

Your thoughts? Have you too ever struggled under the bonds of legalism? Post your comments below. 


Other scriptures on grace:  

"The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more" (Romans 5:20) 

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” Gal.  2:20