Doing versus Being

Article by: Bridgehaven Team

“The Spirit of the Father and the Son would never be interested in merely empowering us to “do good.” His desire (which is the desire of the Father and the Son) is to bring us to such a hearty enjoyment of God through Christ that we delight to know him, that we delight in all his ways, and that therefore we want to do as he wants and we hate the thought of ever grieving him.”[1] 

We sometimes get caught up in doing, doing, doing. Doing things for God can have a very noble sound to it and quite honestly there is much about it that is true. James says that faith without works is dead and cannot save us. However, we have read into this a slight deviation from what he meant. Often (too often) we read this to mean that our works are foundational to our whole life or to our acceptance before God. It’s as if, we think, God is disappointed in us because we keep falling back into the old ways, so we need to get it together and do more to make him happy. After all, we want to pull our weight, right? But, if that is true then when are we ever done in our doing? The idea of doing good in order to keep God pleased is tiring to think about. 

Doing “good” has a nice ring to it, which makes it mistakenly attractive. We ask ourselves what ought we do as followers of Christ but we attach it’s meaning to our acceptance into his family. We must earn our way, prove our love, or work ourselves out from under the rock of shame that we’ve placed ourselves. That is a road toward desperation.

Personally I think it much more motivating and freeing to think about his enduring love and delight in his children. In Christ he has already accepted us. I don’t have to behave because he may get mad. Instead his delight in me frees me up to enjoy him and his remarkable goodness. It is his goodness that motivates me to serve him, not his disappointment if I don’t. Living a life to earn his favor leads toward legalistic slavery. Experiencing his grace moves me to delight in his ways, doing what he wants and serving him with eagerness. Paul reminds us in Galatians 5:1 that it was for freedom that Christ set us free.

I wonder what our lives would be like if we approached God with that restful freedom. If our worship was a delight and our relationships were an overflow of that relationship with God. Where would our shame be? Would we struggle with forgiveness the same way? Could we get through depression, anxiety or mourning? Would this richness of relationship with God allow us the remarkable freedom to live outside of ourselves?

Certainly it will not take our struggles away. Jesus told us that we will always have trouble in this world, but it would provide remarkable perspective on how we’re suffering.

Yes, a hearty delight in God is a greater motivation for “doing good.” As the Psalmist writes, “I delight to do your will, O my God: your law is within my heart.” 


[1] Reeves, Michael (2012-07-03). Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith (pp. 101-102). InterVarsity Press. Kindle Edition.