The works curse…

She’s a high achiever: competitive in nature, somewhat of a perfectionist, and never does anything half-way. Her hard work has landed her class rankings, sports championships and college scholarships… oh, and a reputation for killer Pinterest-worthy results in most everything she does. She gives to people time and time again, even though she’s burned by relationships frequently and people rarely seem to give back. To the world she looks like the epitome of success, but this girl who lights up rooms and charms crowds lives with the constant pressure that she can never do enough.

She’s working so hard, but it’s never, ever enough.

The pressure to perform is incredible in today’s society. We measure ourselves by test scores, our annual incomes, and the numbers on our scales. We compete with people who document the best of their lives on social media while they hide the hard parts and delete the non-flattering images. We buy into the lie that more and more exhausting self-performance will land us that next piece of the puzzle to success, and then – finally then – we’ll find contentment through painstakingly earning our way to the top.

After all, hard work is rewarded, right?

From the time we’re young, we get stars on sticker charts, trophies for winning, and candy for good behavior. We train our children to become driven, responsible, hard working human beings – because what parent shouldn’t want that for their child? We raise them to succeed and live independent, productive lives because man does it feel good to check those things off the list.

Hard work is appropriate, admirable, and applicable to so very many things in life. And hard work can paralyze our view of the gospel if we’re not careful.


O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? ~ Galatians 3:1-3

Our reading this week takes us to a fired-up Paul who is pleading with the Galatians to not veer from the truth and add to the gospel they first heard. Time has passed since they first accepted salvation as a free gift of grace alone by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, and they’ve now let down their guard and are adding works into the mix.

And you know what’s crazy? We say we’d never, but so often little by little we let a works-based faith slowly creep in. After all, the world practically demands this way of life, and Satan knows it.

The longer we are away from truth, the easier it is to fill our minds with legalism and the idea that somehow we have to perform to earn God’s favor. Sure, grace worked well in the beginning when all was fresh and exciting in the honeymoon stage of our relationship with Christ.

But maybe now the cross seems far away…

… or no longer enough.

Or maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re so sinful that grace no longer applies to us…

… because we’ve backslidden and the only way in our minds to tip the scale is to work just a little harder.

Be a little better…

do our part in the equation, because that’s what hard-working, responsible people are supposed to do.

We feel better if we can just contribute something

So we go to church and do good stuff and give to the poor and practice ceremonial religion until we’re blue in the face. And while these things can please God, they will never, ever save us.

Works never pick up where the cross leaves off because the cross doesn’t leave off.  Works didn’t get me in and works aren’t going to keep me in.  Works didn’t please God to begin with – they were dirty rags – and my own self-righteousness doesn’t please Him any more now than it did before I was saved.  I can’t get to God by my works, I can’t add to the cross; the cross keeps on moving through history.  It stands forever as living proof that men cannot redeem themselves.  And so he says to them, “How could you accept the cross and see all that the cross is, and then come in with this system of works?” ~ John MacArthur

Listen, the Bible talks about works, encourages works, and says that we are created for good works. Yes to works!! But our works should be a response to God’s favor, not a way to earn God’s favor.

She’s working so hard, but it’s never, ever enough.

And it will never be enough.

And that is the overwhelming, unmerited, shout-from-the-rooftops beauty of GRACE…

At His feet,

*LET’S TALK: Are you exhausted from working hard to please man or even earn God’s favor? Let us know how we can pray for you in the comments below…

{Week 3} Challenge: Make a list of all of the things you are tempted to do to “perform” for God. Next to each item, identify if your motivation is a response to God’s favor, or if it is an attempt to earn God’s favor. Spend time praying over your list, asking God to help you rest in His great gift of grace.

{Week 3} Video:

{If you can’t see this video, you can view it here.}

{Week 3} Reading Plan:

WK3ReadingPlan{Week 3} Memory Verse:

Galatians Week 3 Memory Verse




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