Standard. It’s a pretty comprehensive concept. One of the first scriptures that come to mind when I think of “standard” is Isaiah 59: 19.
“So, [as a result of the Messiah‘s intervention] they shall [reverently] fear the name of the lord from the west, and His glory form the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like flood, the Spirit of the Lord will lift up a standard against him and put him to flight [for He will come like a rushing stream which the breath of the Lord drives.]” Isaiah 59: 19(AMP)
As a Christian, I’ve often felt like I’m not quite able to meet the standards the world set, or expect, of people who call themselves Christ followers.
The other day at cell, I explained to the women in my group how GRACE empowers us to meet the standard God sets. If God’s standard is 100%, we, as “good Christians“, will maybe make it to 70% — if you live a COMPLETELY holy life and never swear, never have lustful thoughts, never covet or desire things, etcetera. If we take the Ten Commandments (found in Exodus 20:1 to 17) as the standard for Christian Living, we’ll all fall short of it. Which is exactly what Romans 3: 23 (AMP) says.
“All have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives.”
By THIS standard, even if you were a perfect saint in every aspect of your being, you’d still not qualify for God’s glory because of the sinful nature you were born into. However, it’s God’s grace that enables us to make the cut. Listen to this:
“All are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and graciously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24 (AMP)
In other words, whether you’re a really Good Christian (making it up to 70%) or whether you’re the world’s Greatest Sinner (barely making it up to 10%) God’s grace empowers us to meet the standard. Through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross our debt has been paid. Which means that the 30%, or the 90% we need to meet God’s standard has already been filled by Christ. He has come to stand in the gap and fill in all the parts that we need. This does not mean that we can just keep on sinning and doing whatever we want, it means that when you try and you fail, there’s a Safety Net called Jesus that will catch you when you fall.
Another thing I’ve also been confronted with in my journey as a Christian, is being excellent at whatever I do.
As Father’s child, I long to obey Him and honour Him with my life. This is done out of a desire to worship and love him, and not because it is required of me.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 (NIV)
Being excellent at something does not mean that you have to be the best at whatever you’re doing, however, it DOES mean that YOU should be the best at what you’re doing. For example, if you’re a student, it does not mean you have to keep up a 90% average, but it DOES mean that whatever you do should honour and glorify God — you should do the best you can at whatever it is that you do!
As a student I’ve often felt that the culture I live in forces me to be performance driven. I know this is not limited to the Academic World — it’s a global thing that affects most of the Western World and beyond.
Obviously people’s personalities differ and some people are just more keen on getting everything right (planning, making lists, constantly improving) than others, which is okay. I think there should be a balance between being super performance driven — where the only thing that counts is how good you can be at being the best — and maintaining a standard of excellence in order to showcase God’s favor and grace on your life.
One of my close friends, Sanet, is currently in Mouans-Sartoux, France, where she’s an English Assistant. She’s one of the most dedicated scholars I know and her work has ALWAYS been up to standard, and beyond. Yet, as I myself have often felt, she confessed that her performance driven dedication to being a good student and honoring God with the best possible results had led her to the brink of physically and emotionally burning herself out.
I wonder whether this is Society’s inherent flaw?
Coming back to ROMANS 8:15 — God loves us because He has adopted us as sons, not because of all the stuff we can now do for Him since we’re supposed to serve Him. To be honest — God really just cares about your heart! He doesn’t care whether you’re a C+ average student with a bad limp and a pimpled face, or whether you’re the team captain with perfect hair and a perfect score. God doesn’t care whether you’re the till-lady at the supermarket or whether you’re the CEO of What Ever Big Company you’re a part of.
In fact, God is pleased with you even when you don’t do anything.
When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened up and the Father said “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17) Up until then, Jesus had not healed anyone. He had not performed any miracles. He had not preached to large crowds. Yet, Father said that He was PLEASED with Jesus.
You see? Through GRACE we’re in right-standing with Father. He is pleased at you being His child regardless of all the things you’ve succeeded or failed at.
To Him, it’s a matter of your heart. The standard can NEVER be met by anything we do. And nothing we do can ever disqualify us form that standard either, because Jesus has already MET the STANDARD on our behalf. He paid in full so that we can have life, and life in abundance.
“Does this mean that the law is against God’s promises? No, not at all! For if human beings had received a law that could bring life, then everyone could be put right with God by obeying it.” Galatians 3:21 (GNB)
Obeying God and trying to meet His standards CANNOT bring life. GRACE, the sacrifice of Christ’s completed work on the cross is what brings life. Think on that for a moment.
I’m currently a full-time staff member of His People FAITH CITY, as well as a part-time student. Sometimes it takes a big chunk of effort to get through the day with veritable success. I’m sure anyone who has tried being successful at two things simultaneously will know the feeling! It’s a challenge to be equally successful at either thing. And then, once again, I find myself asking — successful by WHAT or WHO’S standard?
As a Campus Minister, I’ve come to realize (over the past two to three months) that your success in ministry can easily be reduced to statistics:
How many people have been saved, baptized, Spirit-filled since you prayed for them?
How many cell groups or connect groups do you run?
How many mission trips have you organised?
How many people have been healed or delivered on your last visit to the Hospital/Local Township/Prayer Meeting, etcetera.
With such daunting questions staring you straight in the eye, it’s a downhill road to feeling like an immense failure. You start questioning whether you’re doing the right thing, whether you’re really following God’s plan for your life, whether you’re actually walking in the Destiny He called you to.
To some of you, the scenario might be a bit different.
Perhaps you’re bordering your 50’s and when you look back at your life, all you see is two children, a divorce, hurtful family relationships and a high school education.
Perhaps you’re the 30-year old wondering whether you actually made the right business deal, married the right woman, etcetera.
My friends, the Enemy will NEVER miss out on an opportunity to make you feel like a failure. As long as he can get you to be passive — unassertive, without purpose, doubting — he’s accomplished his assignment. A passive Christian presents absolutely no threat to his kingdom of darkness. It’s when you’re OUT THERE, proving that God’s alive and that His favor is upon your life, showcasing His love to the World that the devil shrinks back in fear.
Friends, take heart! Be encouraged! When the enemy comes against you with accusations of you not being “good enough” or you “not making the cut” or being “average” — have no fear! THE LORD RAISES A STANDARD AGAINST HIM!
“What does this mean?” You may well ask. Well, it simply implies two super cool things:
- The Lord will fight the Battle on your behalf. (1 Samuel 17:47)
- The devil can NEVER meet God’s standard because Christ never died for his sin.
Dear friends, I pray that you might come to realize that whatever you do — God desires fellowship with you above sacrificial acts of service. I pray that you might come to understand the fullness of His grace. May you be constantly encouraged by Holy Spirit. May your heart be kept upright in the midst of challenges. May your work be filled with mercy and grace and may His love be increasingly visible in your life. May you be guarded from discouragement and illusions of being unworthy. May God reveal His prefect plans to you. May you be able to hear and recognize His voice more and more.
May you be empowered to raise the standard.
- Reflecting on the Holy Spirit and Grace (incontestable.wordpress.com)
- Grace for Grace (theeyesoffaith.wordpress.com)
- Say goodbye to the mountains; It’s time to soar. (jessicakillgore.com)
- Saved by God’s Grace. It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved! (bummyla.wordpress.com)
- Submitting To God’s Righteousness, Part 2of10, Evans Olang (magnifyhisword.wordpress.com)
- Does God have a ‘moral obligation’ to His creation? (calvinistview.com)
- Psalms 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. (calvinistview.com)