Many of us remember that hollow, embarrassing feeling after being picked last on the playground, or the frustration and humiliation of not getting the grades we hoped for or needed. Right from when we were kids, we have been faced with the pressure to perform at school, work and even socially amongst family and friends.
But when it comes to my relationship with my Creator, what does He expect of me? What do I have to do to be good enough for God?
God wants your heart
Maybe God requires me to be perfect in the sense of never making a mistake in anything I do. Maybe He wants me to perform certain acts of kindness to cancel out my faults. Maybe not.
In Hebrews 10 Jesus says that God does not desire sacrifices and offerings, but a body to do His will. The people in the Old Testament didn’t live their lives according to God’s will, even though they continually offered sacrifices. God wanted their hearts, not their sacrifices – which were often made to satisfy their own consciences. No single act or series of good deeds a person does means anything to God unless He is satisfied with what He sees in that person’s heart first.
In Psalm 51 David writes, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart – These, O God, You will not despise.”
The poor in spirit are well-pleasing to God
Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3. God looks for those who sorrow over their lack of goodness, wisdom, patience and purity within themselves; those who, despite all their efforts to be good people, still find their tendency to lose their temper, lie, cheat, backbite, etc. and who maybe even fall sometimes. People who are poor in spirit sorrow over this, and it is these whom God can help. The poor in spirit long to be like Him, and it is exactly these people who are well-pleasing to Him. They give their hearts completely to finding and obeying God’s will.
By the Holy Spirit and His Word, God shows me my shortcomings, but also how to battle against that sin in my nature. This requires obedience on my side, and God provides the strength and the will to carry it out. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” Philippians 2:12-13.
Meeting God’s requirements brings peace and rest
God’s will always has my eternal best in mind. I can only do His will if I have seen my own shortcomings and given my heart over to Him to lead and guide me. Then I am well-pleasing to Him!
Meeting God’s requirements does not cause the stress that continually having to perform according to earthly standards does. In fact, meeting God’s requirements has the opposite effect – peace and rest. He gives those who are poor in spirit a peace that no amount of earthly success can bring.
“He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does the Lord require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8.