I once visited a large congregation on the prairies. I entered the spartan sanctuary and found my seat. As I looked toward the front of the church, I (and everyone else) was challenged with a question painted above the platform. “Have you done your best for the Master?” The question bothered me. I agree with the need for personal inventory and applaud the Kingdom commitment the question invites. But it still bothers me. Why? There is only one possible response to it. “Have you done your best for the Master?” The honest answer is, “No!” I could always do more. More prayer. More sacrifice. More study. More giving. More kindness. More service. How can I say I’ve done my best when there is room for more?
That question painted in the sanctuary reflects the accusation many have in their soul. We fear that we have not done enough for God. We can approach faith with a mindset of productivity. Our faith is measured by “How much? How many? How often?” It may be rooted in a desire to please God and grow out of a sense of duty and obedience. But the plant can become the poison of false guilt and self sufficiency.
When we live by the measure of more, we fall into a snare. We feel obligated to do more and ashamed that we can never do enough. That’s not how we began this journey of faith. Jesus’ invitation was not “Work harder!” It was His grace which drew us. Our insufficiency and bankrupt soul was obvious. His mercy and love welcomed us. So how did our journey shift from grace to “You must do better!”? Our faith walk becomes, “Jesus and a little bit more.” The more we add is usually about me and mine.
I am not suggesting that the things we offer Jesus are useless or unimportant. I offer a reminder that favour is not earned from God by what I do for God. He could not love me any more than He already does. He is not impressed and does not need whatever efforts I hold up as proof of my Kingdom worthiness. I’ve known this for years, but it has taken years for the truth to saturate my soul. I’ve come to embrace that I am loved and received apart from my contributions. I see that His work for me is more central, than my work for Him. I still work for Him, but the Kingdom is not dependent upon my efforts. I see that God is working in and through me by His Son and Spirit. So, now I rest with a calm confidence that God is doing His best in His way, His time and His measure. “Have I done my best today?” Not always. But God is doing His best for me, in me and through me. I could do more, but Jesus is enough.