Now when a Man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. – Rom 4:4-6
Grace is an alien concept in a performance-driven culture. As Christians, we assume we have a deep understanding of grace. But in the busyness of everyday work, we routinely forget grace, or worse, we choose to ignore it, and we too slip easily into the world’s performance-driven culture. This is the root cause for stress because the world’s performance expectations are unrelenting and unforgiving. It is almost impossible to live up to them.
At work, performance is everything. You are only as good as your last project, your last target, or your last deal.
Grace is the very opposite. Grace does not demand you to perform; it inspires you to believe – to believe in Jesus Christ Who ‘performed’ on our behalf. By God’s standards, His is the only perfect performance. But on the cross, He did not get the reward for His performance but the punishment for our failures. Yet, He made a way for His rightful rewards to be imputed to us.
How do we apply this to our everyday work? First, there is work – the physical and mental labour that we all engage in every day. God instituted this when He put Adam in the Garden of Eden to ‘work’ it and take care of it. This is pure, beautiful and fulfilling. This may not tire us. Then there is the work beneath the work – anxiety, pressure to perform and the stress that arises from a deep desire to earn glory and selfish ambition. This tires us. This is the result of Adam’s sin and ours.
When we really apply the Gospel every day in our lives, when we live daily in constant wonder of what Christ did for us, we lose the sinful desire to strive to accomplish more than what is needed. We learn to rest in His finished work. We learn to rest in His performance. That energises us to labour in the work given to us – in service to God and man.
And we pray:
Father God, help me to choose grace over performance every day. Amen