I grew up in a family that went to church almost every week. All through elementary and middle school I went to the school affiliated with my church and memorized a lot of scripture and memorized the Ten Commandments. I joined a Bible quiz team and began memorizing whole books of the Bible. We listened to the local Christian radio station and went to the Christian night at the roller skating rink. I had an engraved leather Bible with a clasp. I served in the church in various roles. It would have been easy to develop a pride about my spiritual up-bringing (I did for a while); however, my knowledge isn't what made my faith real. It was the change in my heart as a result of God's grace that helped me to apply the knowledge and grow my faith. I want to look one more time at Ephesians 2:11-13.
Paul refers to the fact that the Jews were "proud of their circumcision." Paul was pointing out that their up-bringing in the Jewish faith wasn't what was going to save them. The important thing is to allow Christ to perform a change in the heart and let Him cut away all the sin. I think this is something to consider as Christians: are we relying on our up-bringing or heritage for our salvation? Don't get me wrong, I believe it is awesome to have a heritage that shows generations of people honoring God. But I do want to stress that your faith cannot be your parents' faith; everyone needs to have their own relationship with God. We can grow up following all the rules and doing the right things; however, those are not the things that save us.
We are saved only by grace through faith and the good works that we live out should be out of a desire to obey God as a result of our salvation. Different denominations have "rules" for what a good Christian should be following. I am not at all implying that these are bad; however, I think it is easy for Christians to confuse the rules with the relationship. We cannot be proud in what we do or do not do; in fact God wants humility. It is when we understand that it is only through the power of Christ that we are able to live a life that is pleasing to God that we begin to see the change that is necessary to take place. If we are finding ourselves looking good because we are measuring ourselves next to others, that is a sign that we need to re-examine our faith walk. Romans 12:3 says, "Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us."
Are you measuring yourself with faith?
Linking up with On Your Heart Tuesdays.