So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God instead of trying to be right on his own.”
If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it–you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked–well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift
Romans 4:1-5 (The Message)
When I was in high school, I remember enjoying writing reports and doing projects. Maybe that’s why history and english were my favorite subjects. I would get excited when the teacher would hand out the criteria for an assignment. Yes, I’m a geek and know it. But, if the teacher said we could write on whatever we wanted and that there was no specific criteria, I always panicked a little bit. Why, because I liked knowing exactly what I had to do to get an “A” on my paper.
I’m still someone who likes to know the criteria for a project. When it comes to my Christian walk, I admit that I can very easily get focused on the “criteria”. And we all have Christian criteria in our heads. That list that we go through each time we are faced with the question, “What does God want from me?”, and then we jump to find out who needs a meal or what organization needs money.
Now let me be clear, making meals and giving money are not bad things. In fact, most of the things on our Christian criteria lists are extremely good things and wonderful ways of serving. But who are we really serving? God? Others? Or self.
We can get so caught up in doing the next right thing or checking off our list of Christian criteria that we forget to listen to God. And I mean really listen to what He wants from us. Serving Him by taking meals, serving on committees, or giving money are all wonderful things, if that is truly what He is telling you to do. But what if all God wants from you today is your attention. Picture Him sitting in your living room, waiting for you to come sit with Him, while you run around checking off your list of Christian criteria.
I have been guilty of doing just that, far too often. Would I do that to my husband? No way! But why do I do it to the God of the universe, when all He wants it for me to spend time with Him, trusting Him and putting my faith in Him. Because let’s be honest, when I scurry around fulfilling my list of Christian criteria, I’m putting my faith in my own abilities and focusing more on making myself feel like I’ve accomplished something that makes me look better in God’s eyes. But in that, I’m forgetting what Paul wrote about in Romans 4:1-5. Too often I get caught up in doing things for God, when I need to just spend time with God and find out what He really wants from me.
I will never be able to complete my own list of Christian criteria, and neither will you. Today, spend some time with God and ask Him what He wants from you. Maybe, just maybe, it’s your attention.