Righteousness by Works: When You Boast about Your Achievements for God

"If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about.." [Romans 4]

If you boast about your works for God, your righteousness is based on works, not faith, said Paul to the Romans. And if you rely on your works to please God, it means you have the spirit of pride. You have a boastful, self-centered character.

There are lots of church people who still think they have to please God with what they do. So they think it important to be active in church and in ministry. They have to do this and that to please God. And then they boast about it. If they miss church one Sunday, for instance, they feel terribly guilty because to them missing church on a Sunday makes you please God less.

If they miss prayer meeting for a month, they think they've failed pleasing God and their prayers are now less effective, if any.

But if they went to church on a Sunday and took active part, or if they attended prayer meeting and took active part, they feel they have pleased God more than the believer who missed church or prayer meeting. Lots of believers still think this way. To please God, they have to do something for him. And no wonder they think thus because lots of churches promote this thinking--they scare people with false doctrines like this to get them to be active in church.

But believers ought to know the truth to be set free from man's deception and slavery. There is no other way to please God but through faith. "It is impossible to please God without faith." We are created to do good works in Christ [Ephesians 2.10], but such works are not designed to please him. Instead, please God first by faith, then you are created to do good works. The good works are there to glorify God, not you.

When God assigns you a task, just do it. When you see a relevant command in the bible, just do it. If you accomplish it successfully, praise God. He made the success possible, not you or your skill, wisdom, or talent. Only God gives success. He decides who gets it and who doesn't. We cannot decide and aim to be successful. Our only job is to do it faithfully and rely on God, period. If we become successful, it's all God. Don't dare get the credit. Let God do that. If he decides you get some appreciation for it, God will lift you up in due time. Don't boast about "your" achievements.

If you fail doing God's will--though you faithfully tried with your best--don't worry about it. God is not after your success--he's after your heart. If you fail, God has a purpose for it--either to sharpen you or promote you. Are you aware that failure is given only to those who are tough in faith and maturity--or to those whom God plans to be so rewarded? When God sets you up for a faith promotion, he allows you to experience and handle failures, even bitter, harsh and painful ones, so you'd get rejection from men who do not understand God's ways. All these men understand are the ways of the world. They reward so-called "achievers."

But God always tests the heart. He's not interested about your success because if he wants something done successfully, he does it himself. Yeah, he uses people, but he does it himself. He always gets the credit, not the people he uses. But he's interested about your heart. Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If your heart is wrong, your worship and prayer are wrong--or whatever your mouth utters--no matter if you sing the most beautiful songs or pray the most beautiful prayers. So God wants to test and promote our hearts.

"It is with your heart that you believe and are justified, 
and it is with your mouth that you 
profess your faith and are saved," [Romans 10.10]

You see, wrong heart means wrong faith and zero justification. And wrong heart means wrong profession of faith and probably wrong salvation, too. So God gives you tasks or ministries to do because these things reveal your heart. How you respond or react to success and failure--yours and other people's in particular--determines your spiritual maturity. And that is what God is interested in. It is your life and character that gives him glory, not your achievements.  

You have a mega church or mega ministry? It was all God who made that possible, not you--not your skills, intellect, strategies, techniques, programs, or whatever. So don't feel superior. Instead, be more humble. But a lot of ministers and church leaders do otherwise. They are like Nebuchadnezzar--looking around marveling at their achievements, accomplishments, trophies, etc. They want to be praised and appreciated so they set up programs paying tribute to themselves. Later, like Nebuchadnezzar, they live and behave like animals. 

Such people are prone to boast about their works and belittle others who produce less. They rely on works for justification, said Romans. If you want to find out whether your righteousness is based on works, just watch yourself. Do you love boasting about your achievements? Then your righteousness is really based on good works, not faith--though you may think it is by faith.

But if you just keep meek and humble as you obey God, giving it your best but relying on him for results, then once success comes, you know it's all because of God, not you. You have nothing to do with the success. Or, if you fail, you know God is working out something in you so that you come out shining like gold later. You failed not because you're unworthy, stupid or failed to please God. As long as you have Christ in you by faith, God is pleased with you, success or otherwise. But God allowed the failure because he's preparing you for a promotion.

"The least among you shall be the greatest in the Kingdom."

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