“You’re such a good girl!” When I was young, I was told this for things like cleaning my room, being quick to obey, memorizing Bible verses, or helping a friend. Upon hearing it, my confidence was bolstered because my behavior was noticed as good and rewarded with praise. Those telling me this had no ill intent and only meant to encourage, but over time my young self began to equate success and the good things I did as affirmation of my value. Therefore, I repeated these behaviors and avoided any situation that might taint the status of my being ‘good.’ Fear of falling out of favor motivated my moral behavior and I was completely blind that I had taken a path of self-glorification by following the rules.

I had indeed been rescued from the kingdom of darkness by having a relationship with Jesus, but I was wandering in that kingdom seeing and moving about by striking a match to shine only to have to put in effort and re-strike matches over and over again to see. I was trying to light my world versus allowing Jesus to be the light of the world.

This continued until the Holy Spirit revealed the selfish motivation of my heart and my efforts to me. I remember thinking, “Goodness! I’m blind! How could I not see this before!?” Right in front of me was the raw sinful state of my heart despite my good behavior and positive worldly outcomes and rewards. Absolutely ashamed, I wanted to hide but the Lord at that same moment overwhelmed me with a sense of belovedness, peace and freedom. Tim Keller has a statement that captures what I was experiencing perfectly,

“We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”

Why do I share this story of my blindness with you? To point you towards God, the only one who is truly good (Luke 18:19). As someone who answered a call to love, serve and equip the saints for ministry, I wish I could honestly say that I no longer get unhealthy value from verbal affirmation, success or from the good things that I do. But I live in this world still waging war against it, my own flesh, and the devil right along with you, and confess that it is a weakness of mine that I continually have to be on guard against. I do this by allowing the Word of God to search and lead me and by staying in vulnerable relationships with others so that my service in His house is for His glory.

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Jessica Klootwyk
Groups & Women’s Discipleship Director

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