Jesus instructed, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
Peter quoted from the Old Testament, “…as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.'”
“But God just wants us to do our best!” someone blurts from the back of the room (without even raising her hand). “That’s all He can expect us to do.”
Why is that all He can expect us to do? Is our best actually good enough for Him?
When have we actually done our best? Think back to yesterday. Did you do your best? Did you pray at the end of the day, “Lord, I did my best today; I gave it my best shot. I hope You’re happy with me”?
I confess, I can almost always think of a way in which I could have done something better, spoken more nicely, exhibited more patience, spoken up more, shut up more, desired God more.
What exactly is my best, anyway?
More importantly, is it biblical to insist “God just wants me to do my best”? I read things like…
“Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” (Eph. 4.1-3)
“Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” (Eph. 5.1-2)
“Walk as children of light…” (Eph. 5.8)
“Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…” (Phil. 1.27)
“But God would never command us to do something we can’t do!” returns the lady, now standing red-faced beside her chair.
Jesus said it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Literally impossible. For man. But not impossible for God (see Matt. 19.23-26). Did Jesus command that rich young ruler to do something he couldn’t do?
A brother (and brother-in-law) of mine, Edwin Crozier, recently made these observations:
- When God commanded Moses to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt, He commanded Moses to what he could not in order to drive him to rely on God’s power (Exodus 3:10)
- When God commanded Israel to take possession of the Promised Land, He commanded them to do what they could not in order to drive them to rely on God’s grace (Deuteronomy 9:23, et al).
- When God commanded Gideon to deliver Israel from Midian, He commanded Gideon to do what he could not in order to drive him to rely on God’s grace (Judges 7).
- When God commanded Joshua and Zerubbabel to rebuild the temple, He commanded them to do what they could not in order to drive them to rely on God’s grace and Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
- When Jesus commanded Peter to walk on the water, He commanded Peter to do what he could not in order to drive him to rely on Jesus’s grace, power, and strength (Matthew 14:28-33).
- When Peter commanded the lame man to walk, he commanded the lame man to do what he could not in order to drive him to rely on the name and grace of Jesus Christ (Acts 3:6-7).
- When God commands us to walk in a manner worthy of our calling, He commands us to do what we cannot in order to drive us to His mercy, grace, strength, and power (Ephesians 3:14-4:1).
I whole-heartedly agree with his observations.
Christians do the impossible every day because they rely on the power and grace of God! God has commanded what we are not able to really accomplish, but that’s okay because He can accomplish all these things in us! In fact, Jesus has already accomplished it all for us.
Our best is not good enough for God. But Jesus‘ best is perfect.
Thank You, God, for power and grace to live righteously before You today in Jesus.