works vs. grace

Having “been there and come back”, nothing irritates me more than self righteous people (of whom I used to be one) who think they know all the answers about non-essential issues like family size, clothing, church attendance, music, and what-have-you.   Actually, their beliefs don’t bother me as much.  It’s the judgmental attitude that  looks down on anyone who doesn’t believe the same way, or the trying, in a condescending, legalistic way to teach/enlighten others on “the truth”.  I hate even bringing it up in blog-land.  I believe it is a shame of the church that pretty much every denomination deals with….judging one another and trying to manipulate our own sanctification process.  But I think it is important to talk about because this is the reason that we need to meditate more on the concept of grace, and also the reality of the LOVE of God toward sinners.    I want to say what C.S. Lewis said, “Go further up and further in” … the life of a genuine, humble believer is just that—beautiful, attractive, lovely, not freakish or proud.  Honestly, we all naturally suffer from making mistakes in our lives and speech (the Lord knows I often say or react in ways that are not very lovely) but IN GENERAL, I want to be the person who accepts, loves, listens, nurtures, and I want to go to a church where I feel safe and accepted, where the burdens of life are lifted for a while in the praise and adoration of my Savior (I am thankful that we do go to a church like that).

My mind and soul have been meditating on the grace and love of God because, really, these truths are the blessed antidote to the poison of self-righteousness and religiosity that looks to human good works rather than accepts the fact that we all NEED HIM for our everything, always. I search my Bible,  books, and journals for the sweet truths of Christ that He has led me to through the years; and this Christian life is simple and beautiful. His ways are rest and peace, his burdens are light, He carries us in His loving arms and oh sometimes I just cannot seem to wait for the day when I am done with this life and on to glory-land!

Helpful words::

This is from the book The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse, by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen:

“In a works-righteousness system, if you stumble under the load you are carrying, the ministry you will receive will not be mercy and grace.  You will not hear Matthew 5:3, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’–that is, ‘Blessed are those who recognize they can’t carry the load,’–‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Rather, you will be encouraged to ‘try a little harder’ and ‘do a little more.’  In some cases you may be shamed for ‘not being committed enough’.  

There is also performance-based Christianity, a most common malady among Christians.  It manifests itself this way.  After having understood the truth of Ephesians 2:8-9—‘For by grace you have been saved…..’–and having had the load of sin removed for salvation, we then lay on a load of personal performance for sanctification, service, and to receive further blessings.

It works something like this.  We are very careful to help people understand that Jesus is their only hope for salvation.  ‘He saved us, not the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy’ (Titus 3:5)  But for successful Christian living, we give the same message they had to reject in order to get saved.  ‘Just do it’  ‘Try hard.’  ‘Do more.’ ‘It’s up to you.’  We pile up a load of expectations, regulations, formulas and rules.  Almost without noticing, we begin to live the same way we did before we met Jesus, hoping that with all our effort we will someday, some way, measure up.  But we never do measure up; we continue to carry the load and call it ‘the abundant life.’

This dynamic is really not that hard to spot.  In a performance-based system, you will be the bearer of the burden.  In a grace-based system, you will be constantly directed to Jesus as your only hope, encouraged to rest in Him as your only source of life and power.” 



Come to the waters,
whoever is thirsty;
drink from the Fountain that never runs dry.
Jesus the Living One, offers you mercy,
life more abundant in boundless supply.


Come to the River that flows through the city,
forth from the throne of the Father and Son.
Jesus the Savior says, ‘Come and drink deeply.’
Drink from the one, inexhaustible One.


Come to the fountain without any money;
buy what is given without any cost.
Jesus, the gracious one, welcomes the weary:
Jesus, the selfless one, died for the lost.


Come to the well of unmerited favor;
Stretch out your hand; fill your cup to the brim.
Jesus is such a compassionate Savior.
Draw from the grace that flows freely from Him.


Come to the Savior, the God of Salvation.
God has provided an end to sin’s strife.
Why will you suffer the Law’s condemnation?
Take the free gift of the water of life.

James Montgomery Boice, 2000


Nothing shall separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus.  Romans 8:19


Many hear God say, ‘do more’ and ‘do better’.  But not, ‘Ive done it all for you-rest.
Yet this is what Jesus meant when He said, ‘Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden….
Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me…..
for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Randy Alcorn


….to set the mind on the spirit is life and peace….. Romans 8:6


Surely the Lord is my help; God is the one who sustains me.  Psalm 54:4


I realize that I cannot articulate what is in my heart properly, but I wanted to share the best way I could, some of the things that I’m thinking about these days.  My friends, you are loved and acceptable.  Rest in Christ today.   I have little ones playing outside.  David caught a crayfish and wants to eat it, Jacob and Ethan are painting Grace’s room as she reads a book, a soccer game is playing loudly on the TV.  I am going to get to work in the kitchen, to make a big corn-chip salad (our favorite summer lunch) and perhaps some pizza dough, too.

Have a great day!

16 thoughts on “works vs. grace

  1. Beautiful, Shanda. That’s wisdom well-said. Living like we are Loved by God changes everything, and gives us so much hope and relief that I often laugh out loud for joy.

    • This ive had to learn . I think the fact that I can never be good enough to earn gods love and the magnitude of His love for me… wow im just learning this over the past year. I am 40 years old. How grateful I am that He is mine. And that I am His.

  2. Absolutely LOVE the hymns of J. M. Boice!!! Thanks for the reminder of that one. Truly understanding His sovereign grace has changed my life.

    • It’s kind of funny b/c I don’t even know the melody! A lady at Bible Study shared the words and I was blown away by the richness of them. I’ll have to look up some more of his works.

  3. Thank you for this post. I’m not sure what happened, or what was said, but I’m sorry it happened. I hear you, and I agree with you. I’m totally dependent upon my Savior for every single thing and extremely grateful for His grace. I love the word Grace and the meaning behind it. 😉

    I’m not sure why people feel the need to control others. Maybe it’s because they feel insecure in their own beliefs? Or maybe they feel out of control themselves. Regardless, it’s a problem in THEM, not you. You are a wonderful mother. I love your family because of the love and grace and sincerity with which you live your lives. The love is obvious.

    I love that Jacob and Ethan are painting Grace’s room. 🙂 I hope you will post your recipe for corn chip salad. I love corn chips, though I rarely allow myself to have them. Sometimes a girl’s just gotta splurge, and corn chip salad sounds like a wonderful way to do it!

    • Dear Kara, no worries….this post came from something I read online that wasn’t directed to me personally. It was on a fundamentalist’s site in which the lady was teaching how it is sinful for women to wear pants….just the attitude that she had toward some of the commenters that didn’t agree, made me sad. I want to be clear here for anyone who read the post that the lady was NO ONE I KNOW PERSONALLY, it’s a blog written by someone out West. Anyway, I began to feel some anxiety about it until I began meditating on God’s word and love. Thank you for your sympathy! Here is the recipe for the salad: on nice crisp greens, chopped tomato, chopped onion or green onion, one or two cans of rinsed black or kidney beans, shredded montary jack cheese. On each serving, add a spoonful of crumbled cooked hamburger and crumbled corn chips OR Doritos (we use Doritos) and French or Creamy French dressing.

      • Thanks for explaining. Sorry if I misunderstood. I ‘get it’ though. I’m often hit hard by things I read like that. For the most part, I just try to avoid sites like that because I don’t handle them very well. Once it gets under my skin, it’s hard for me to let it go. It’s one of the reasons I take so many breaks from Facebook. The range of people with different beliefs on my FB is staggering and overwhelming and hard for me to deal with sometimes. It can really bring me down if I don’t watch it. Thanks for writing out the Corn Chip salad recipe for me! It sounds delicious.

  4. Hey its me again my third post. I grew up in a church (cult) that practiced this judgemental attitude. I grew up being a people pleaser. I grew up thinking that was how God saw me too. I became judgemental. Until last year when Godled us to a new church where people were very different from us. I have NEVER experienced the Holy Spirit like I do here where we go to church. I have learned that God loves me not based on my performance but on His love. I do not have to earn it. Im fourty and I has
    taken me this long to learn this. To tear down the stronghold of needing to be loved and
    accepted by others. To please them. I am loved
    by God. Deeply and genuinely loved by Him. Not based upon anything I do. And I pray to share
    this with others. I have gone thru lots of pain
    but god is bringing me thru healing. I am praying for you too.

    • Dear Christina, it will take time for you to heal….I will pray for you, continue to stay in God’s word, and the book I mentioned in the post is a good one. It may even help to talk to a therapist. Anything you can do to heal. It’s a very real hurt that many women and men unfortunately have to recover from. HUGS

  5. you know my heart on this (I guess seven years of bloggin can do that 🙂 — and I say a hearty AMEN to what you write here. I love your pics and my the kids have grown seems a little stupid to say (since that’s what they do!) but man, they sure have! Blessings girl! and until people realize the depth of their own sin and uselessness to Christ to “be something” — they can only see the “sins” of others. When we are broken, before Him, and then healed in Him – then we don’t have any desire to point out to others those issues that divide and really are not in anyway necessary for righteousness. Love to you and yours
    Alyssa W.

  6. Hello, I came across your blog trying to search for encouragement or versus to help more through impending depression. This post was 3 years ago but I am glad I found it, God bless you and your beautiful family!

    “In a works-righteousness system, if you stumble under the load you are carrying, the ministry you will receive will not be mercy and grace. You will not hear Matthew 5:3, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’–that is, ‘Blessed are those who recognize they can’t carry the load,’–‘for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

    I am a nursing student and on the last leg of the program. I have been crying for about 2 weeks straight now because I feel so alone stumbling every which way- missing a few things one my first day of patient care clinicals and failing a final yesterday that I worked, sacrificed, and prayed over- AND all throughout I did not give it to God who matters the most..
    After yesterday I don’t know if I felt peace or starting to feel numb like depression. I woke up this morning and decided to just lay there. I can’t carry this load..

    “In a grace-based system, you will be constantly directed to Jesus as your only hope, encouraged to rest in Him as your only source of life and power.”

    I am ready to finish on a grace-based system.
    Lynne from California

    • Praying for you!! Thank you for taking the time to write and share. I am happy that the blog post encouraged you, and you have in turn encouraged me to keep writing and here. Much love, from Shanda

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