Our western culture imposes all sorts of burdens on us consistent with the notion of self help. Pedal to the metal is the response of many who see in themselves deficiencies that need to be addressed. There is, all too often, the false assumption that “only I can fix” these perceived deficiencies and that, to the extent that I fail to apply sufficient of my time and resources to the issues, I am a failure and unworthy because my culture expects me to be able to solve them. We also see this attitude played out in the Christian life in the activities of proponents who focus on trying to accumulate as much merit as they can for their “good works” failing to recognize that the God, who loves them beyond their wildest imaginings, has already established the perfect regime for guiding them and nourishing them on their journey in life. They need not be stressed by spiritual inadequacies and the perceived need to chalk up spiritual achievements in order to try to feel good about themselves spiritually. Such an attitude often is borne out of a fear of God [in the “I am terrified” sense] rather than an attitude nourished by a loving relationship with God. We see Jesus dealing with this very issue with the Apostle Peter [John 21: 1-19] during one of His post resurrection appearances to His disciples. Peter had denied knowing Jesus on 3 separate occasions prior to the crucifixion. In the encounter with Peter at the Sea of Tiberias, Jesus forces Peter to respond to the question: “Do you love me” 3 times focusing on the relationship between Jesus and Peter rather than on Peter’s betrayal. It is trite to say that God knows that we are weak and that we can be expected to offend God or betray God perhaps repeatedly during our lives. When we fall like this we can despair and give up because we are focused on our own resources rather than on the relationship and what we can, with God’s help, do to move on in the relationship. God has provided us with the dispenser of grace [the Holy Spirit] and with grace itself both of which are sufficient to keep us moving in the right direction. Beware of the enemy who utilizes every opportunity to impress you with the notion that “all is lost”.
Of course one needs to maintain a balance in evaluating spiritual progress in life. Our progress, I am sure, is not measured by our strict adherence to doctrine [although this is important] but rather by the depth and width of our love for our God measured in part by the love and compassion that we show to those around us. What this means is focusing on the relationship with Jesus each day and thanking Him for the blessing of that relationship and the guidance and grace that flows from it. If we are confident in our relationship with Jesus then we know Him and can be regularly assured that our Friend and our God will never let us down no matter how often we fall. Rather he will be there hand outstretched to pick us up when we turn to Him. Allow your relationship with Jesus to relocate the load that you may move forward with greater confidence.