Performance says, “I have not obtained a proper relationship.” For some, it means they have not freely entered into fellowship with God by grace through faith (see Ephesians 2:8-9). For others, they began in faith, but somehow shifted into works mode, as if they have to perform in order to maintain the relationship. If people could earn the relationship, if they could be “good enough” to maintain it, why did Jesus shed His Blood? Did not God give His only begotten Son because He already loved us (see John 3:16)? It is not about earning His love, since He already does love us.
While performance seeks to earn the relationship, obedience declares, “I have a relationship.” The former is self-generated and results in dead works, while the latter is the result of hearing and action out of love. One is based on unbelief; the other is rooted in full persuasion. A person who performs for God tries to do things on his own accord, without help. This relates to the pride of life because it is independent from God. One who obeys God listens to His voice, believes what he hears, and yields to it. He fully realizes that he is dependent on the Lord to accomplish what is asked of him. Because performance is a solo act, there is no relationship involved with the Father in it. Obedience relies on the relationship with Him. It means, “I get to do this with Daddy” (see Romans 8:14-15; 1Corinthians 3:8-10; Galatians 4:4-7). Those who perform seek to glorify their selves, while those who obey seek to glorify God!
A number of people grew up having to earn their parents’ affection. In order to receive it, they had to perform. They had to be “good.” Unfortunately, when they failed to live up to their parents’ expectations, they were scorned and rejected. Therefore, they constantly searched for ways to please them. In some cases, affection came to them, while in others, “it wasn’t good enough.” Some people spend their entire life living to hear “I love you,” and “I’m proud of you.” A few hear those words of affirmation after many years. Others will be provoked by the lack of affection and will reject their parents. They will have very little to do with them if at all. They are so angry and frustrated that they have a difficult time with showing affection themselves. Because God is our Father, these same people tend to view Him from the same perspective as they do their earthly parents, especially fathers. Hence, they believe they have to earn His love or they can never have it, and tend to reject the Father altogether. Ephesians 6:4 says, “And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (KJV). Parents, when you withhold the blessing from your children, you provoke them. One of the greatest ways to raise them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord is to speak words of blessing over them. It means that you say, “I love you” several times a day. It includes “well done” and “I am so proud of you!”
Understand that God the Father is a Father like no other earthly parent on the planet. You will never be able to do anything to make Him love you more or less, than He already does. Think about John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (KJV). Because He loves you, He gave His Son to die for you. How many of you love others enough to let your son or daughter die for the sins of those you love, and those you do not even know? While He freely gave His Son, it cost Him dearly! Secondly, the Father freely blesses His children. A gift cannot be earned since it is given. That is why we call it a “gift.” Anytime there are strings attached to a “gift,” it is no longer a gift. What we do with that gift is another matter. Because Jesus died and rose for us, we have open access to the Father by His will. The Word says, “But as many as received Him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13, KJV). It is the Father’s will for us to freely come to Him as His children. For you who have never known your parents love and affection, know that you are dearly loved and adored by God the Father! Allow Him to love you and heal you of your past. In spite of the fact that your parents (father and/or mother) withheld their love from you, do not withhold your love for your children. If you want your children to make it to heaven, love them! If you want what is best for them and for them to succeed in life, love on them.
The Father intended for you to rest in the relationship, thus we read, “For He that is entered into His rest, He also hath ceased from His Own works, as God did from His. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief” (Hebrews 4:10-11, KJV). The key is to believe what He says. Rest in Jesus and enjoy the relationship. If you still feel the need to perform, knock yourself out, but it will be a miserable way to live.