My small group is currently doing a study about the book of Galatians. Although we are currently in the book of Ephesians for today’s study, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my readings for that Galatians study while I read Ephesians 2.
The Galatians study my small group is going through is wrecking my life in the very best of ways. Although I’ve been a Christian since I was a little girl and I grew up in the church, this particular study has revealed to me just how much I rely on my own performance and my own actions for my salvation… even though Christ took care of that whole salvation issue once and for all a long, long time ago. Maybe you can relate to me and you, too, rely too much on your performance for your acceptance.
The study is also revealing to me how much I beat myself up for the ways I fall short each day. I know this a mental habit is not from the Lord, because instead of my head being filled with gentle reminders to love better, grow more, and serve more freely, I feel condemned and discouraged by my weaknesses. Romans 8:1 says, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” which also tells me that those thoughts that cause me to beat myself up are not from my God. Perhaps you, also, struggle with thoughts like these.
I need passages like Ephesians 2 to wake me up and remind me the reality I get to live in as a daughter of Christ. I love Ephesians 2:13, which says,
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
To me, that’s where this big, beautiful story begins. By God’s grace and because of His loving choice to send His Son for us, we – who were once so incredibly far away from the Lord – have been brought near to Him again.
What a gift.
I also love Ephesians 2:8-9, which says,
“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 your works, so that no one may boast.”
“And this is not your own doing…” As I’ve been reading through that Galatians study, I’ve come to realize what a good thing this is. I’m not responsible for my own salvation. God took care of that, and Jesus’ blood covers me because I am in Christ. However, I often still live like it’s my job to save myself. I try to fix myself, I try to handle things on my own, and I try to do and be better by my own strength. I try so hard because I feel like I need to please God and make up for what He gave me so freely.
Ephesians 2 reminds me yet again that God’s love for me and His acceptance of me is in no way dependent on my actions. Not only that, but there’s no way I actually ever could save myself, no matter how hard I tried! The same goes for you… God’s love for you is not dependent on how you act, how well you perform, or how much you succeed. I often have found it helpful to remember that when God looks at me, He doesn’t have to see my sin anymore, because He sees me through Jesus. Perhaps it would help you as well to keep that mental image in your head as you go about your day. I don’t think I can ever express enough how grateful I am that the truths found in Ephesians 2 are my reality as a follower of Jesus, and I hope you are reminded today that this can also be your reality.
What a gift.