Editor’s Note: It’s Sit & Listen Saturday at Devotionals Daily. Enjoy reading as well as listening to this devotion from Bobby Schuller, excerpted from his new book You Are Beloved. Don’t miss our deal on the book! Listen on the blog or on your Alexa device by enabling the skill and then prompting, “Alexa, ask devotionals to read today’s devotion.”
You’re Not What You Do Morally
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. — Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
What you do morally matters. I’m tempted to say what you do morally is the most important thing in the world, but it’s not. It’s the second most important thing in the world. Instead, your identity is the number one most important thing because in the end your identity will not only guide your actions, but your happiness as well. When you know you are the beloved of God, you will usually do good because it comes naturally, rather than do good out of willpower. When you are living in your true identity as the beloved, being a good person has nothing to do with trying harder. You do good for others because it’s what is most natural to you. Therefore, the only way to be a joyful, moral person is, ironically, to let go of your identity as a moral person and embrace your identity as the beloved.
If you want to do good, but lack the power to do so, it’s likely because you are trying to do good from a place of shame rather than a place of grace. You’re constantly beating yourself up in the hopes you’ll get your life together. Maybe you were taught to do this by your parents or through sermons you’ve heard in the past: “When you mess up, you beat yourself up so you won’t do it again.” When we do this, we are actually making things worse, not better.
Though shame can and often does push a person in the general direction of morality, his moral actions can become rigid, life thwarting, and joyless and typically lead to religiosity and hypocrisy. Because this person’s identity is about being a moral person more than about being beloved, when he messes up (and he will mess up), he is now tempted to hide his mistake. In the beginning he will confess his mistakes, but because his morality is so closely linked to his identity, he won’t be able to keep it up and will eventually lose that identity for one of immorality. Or he will become a person with two identities: the moral one that everyone sees and the private immoral one he sees in the mirror.
God has a better idea. Just let go and be loved right where you are. Let go of the felt need and pressure to be perfect all the time. God will form in you a moral heart only at the point where you are at peace with your flaws and imperfections, because it’s only there you receive grace. When you are at peace with your shortcomings and don’t link them to your identity, then it is not so painful to work on those things with others. You’ll stop saying to yourself, “I will be worthy of love when I earn it.” Right there in that place, unearned love from God and others will foster gratitude and joy in your heart that will lead to altruism and goodness.
When you truly believe you are loved by God just as you are, you can let go of your works and good deeds as an identity and inherit the power to actually become a good person. Yes, it takes time for our heart and actions to change, but in the end, people who feel loved by God and others are moral and happy. You are not your morality. You are beloved.
Excerpted with permission from You Are Beloved by Bobby Schuller, copyright Bobby Schuller.
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You can relax. You are beloved. None of us are going to do this life perfectly. Yes, what you do matters, and has consequences, and repentance is important to the Lord. But, first, you are loved. Most importantly you are loved. Come share your thoughts on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily