Results or obedience?
Results. We are measured by them. Pushed to them. We determine someone’s worth based on them. Our very own identities and esteem are aligned with them.
But what if they weren’t?
I ask you this because I was recently stunned by this concept. Listening to Go + Tell Gals Podcast: Episode 2 | Annie F Downs, Annie shared this about why she celebrated her book before it even launched:
“...because it is never, to me, about the result. It is always about the obedience.”
It feels like too radical a concept. What would happen to the very structure of our society? How would we determine/rank/value/discover? Discern/judge/consider/reject? Wouldn’t everything just fall to pieces?
I forced myself to think about it through the lens of Jesus. I turned to the Bible and found the following:
Romans 2:6-7 | 6 God “will repay each person according to what they have done.”[a] 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life.
Luke 11:28 | 28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”
1 Kings 2:3 | and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.
Turns out, putting obedience front and centre isn’t a radical concept: obedience is an explicit instruction from our Lord.
This gives me clarity. But along with this clarity comes a heavy realisation: since I’m guilty of disobedience, does this mean I’ve no hope? That I shouldn’t even bother trying as I am not a good person and destined to fail anyway?
How then am I going to be judged and sentenced? I’m feeling slightly terrified at the thought.
John Piper addressed this in his 1989 piece, Final judgment according to works. I highly recommend you read the piece in its entirety: but I wanted to share the bit that makes things click for me:
“His sentence of acquittal will not be because we are not guilty. It will be because Christ bore our guilt. The place of our works at the judgment is to serve as corroborating evidence that we did indeed put our trust in Christ. Therefore when we are acquitted and welcomed into the kingdom it will not be earned by works but it will be according to works.”
This, from the Bible:
Ephesians 2:8-9 | 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.
I feel so undeserving. Because I am.
How can I even contemplate striving for selfish and temporary earthly results when I’ve been freely offered the ultimate result of eternal life in heaven?
Our Lord knows what I hide in the darkest chambers of my heart. He knows how I truly feel about Him, regardless of what I say or write or do. He knows I will never be able to adhere in obedience, but He forgives me—over and over—anyway.
It’s neither results nor obedience. It is grace.