Pastor’s Corner: “Obedience or Performance?”

John 15:10 (NIV) – If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 

We often approach life with a determination to do everything right, because we’ve learned that’s the way to be valued and loved. God saved us by grace not by performance. How can you tell if you’re obeying or performing? The line between obedience and performance can be a blurry one. Yet it is an important distinction to grasp, because obedience leads to life, and performance can lead to death… 

Obedience is seeking God with your whole heart. Performance is having a quiet time because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t. 

Obedience is finding ways to let the Word of God dwell in you richly. Performance is quickly scanning a passage so you can check it off your Bible reading plan. 

Obedience is inviting guests to your home for dinner. Performance is feeling anxious about whether every detail of the meal will be perfect. 

Obedience is following God’s prompting to start a small group. Performance is reluctance to let anyone else lead the group because they might not do it as well as you would. 

Obedience is doing your best. Performance is wanting to be the best. 

Obedience is saying yes to whatever God asks of you. Performance is saying yes to whatever people ask of you. 

Obedience is following the promptings of God’s Spirit. Performance is following a list of man-made requirements. 

Obedience springs from Love and Honor for God. Performance springs from fear of failure.” 

Living under the pressure to perform creates stress, anxiety and guilt. The expectations we heap on ourselves, and those we let others heap on us, create burdens that wear us down and eventually wear us out. On the other hand, living in obedience leads to life and joy. Jesus promised that His yoke is easy and His burden, light (Matthew 11:28-31). David found that God’s commands are “right, giving joy to the heart” and “radiant, giving light to the eyes” (Psalms 19:8). 

We obey God because we know Him and love Him; because we are in relationship with Him. Holy Spirit within us prompts and energizes and motivates us to do what is pleasing to the Lord. The Spirit also convicts us when we disobey. Obeying the commands of God is not a test we must pass in order to earn a relationship with the Lord. Rather, obedience is what follows in response to being redeemed by grace and transformed by Holy Spirit. Obedience is an act of love in response to the God who loves us, redeemed us, and calls us to Himself.  

May we stop performing and learn to obey – not in an attempt to earn God’s love, but as an expression of our love for Him. 

In His Grace,  

Pastor Hamilton