Tuesday, December 6, 2011


When I was a girl I dreamed of being a career woman. I looked to magazines that depicted lovely ladies in business attire and to TV shows and commercials that advertised that women could have it all: they could bring home the bacon, fry it up in the pan and still be a woman to their man. ;)  It was an unreal dream, but at the time I wanted that. 

After High School, and while taking college courses at night, I donned my shoulder pads, knee high skirts and high heels and headed out into the world (yes a lot of the early appeal of the business world may have initially been the outfits...).  First stop was a receptionist position at a computer circuit board shop. I worked overtime and went in to work on the weekends until I understood the ins and outs of each department. Soon I was quality checking printed circuit boards at my desk.  Next, I was asked to move into a sales position in the division across the street.

I remember working countless hours to earn my way. On the nights when I didn't have classes, I worked late- sometimes getting home as late as 8 pm. I was driven and let's face it- I was young and had energy.

I knew I needed to work my way into a position I would be happy with before I got older and my energy died out. So I pressed on. I was zealous for achievement and just wanted to do the best job humanly possible.

My first month in inside sales I closed a record amount of deals. The VPs loved me. The VP of the division I left felt responsible for my success and the VP of the new division was pleased as punch.

Then one day my supervisor approached me privately. He said, "Something must be wrong if you feel that you have to work so hard. Maybe you are not productive enough during the day- and that is why you feel you need work at night as well." He urged that I needed to stop working so much- to slow down and pace myself. (As a funny side note- this supervisor actually had a list of excuses he would use on customers in his desk drawer. Instead of giving truthful answers as to why a product hadn't shipped, he'd just pull out his list and give one of his "tried and true" falsehoods. It saved him the trouble of getting out of his desk or making a phone call to find out the real reasons I suppose.)

Following that a co-worker also approached me (I think they were in cahoots) and told me that I was beginning to make all the other inside sales people look bad. I needed to stop all these late nights.

I was making others look bad? Well, that wasn't my motivation. I was working crazy hours and making a bazillion telephone calls each day to please my boss and to further my career. I was completely self focused, yes. But I hadn't realized I was hurting them. A light began to dawn in my thinking as I realized that they resented what I was doing. They were not happy with the increased sales I had brought to the department. I was doing my job too well.  The truth is, it wasn't work to me in the same way that it was work to them.  I didn't see it as a daily drudgery.  I had a goal and I was eagerly moving toward it- it all seemed pretty easy.

Well, in any case things at work were awkward for a while.  Then I was promoted on. 



What in the world does that story have to do with anything?  Well, there is a saying that no one cares how well you do, as long as you don't do better than them.

Is that true of us in the faith?

When we see a believer zealous for righteousness- reading the Word and putting it into practice; growing in holiness and putting their flesh to death in various ways are we excited with them? Or does it actually tee us off a bit? 

When someone is keeping their home diligently do we point them out as someone we admire or roll our eyes and compare them to Martha Stewart- as though her name is a bad word?

Do we sit by silently as others in the church point and accuse those who seek to obey God with titles like: "Legalist!" and "Self righteous!" Do they accuse out of insecurity?  And are we quiet because it eases our own consciences a bit?

Are we annoyed if others set a standard that we don't (even if it is based on Scripture)?  And do we instantly believe that they must be judging us or see themselves as better than others...even if they don't?  Do we want to take them down a peg or two and tell them to knock it off already? 


In my last article, I wrote a fictitious letter to the psalmist David advising him to "ease up a bit" if he was going to speak to the modern church.

I wrote in jest of course, but I was trying to make a point.  If you were fellowshipping with David in your local church today would you roll your eyes and believe he was "self righteous" if he said that he would "set nothing wicked before his eyes" and would "not know wickedness" (Psalm 101:3-4)?  What if he stood against secret slandering of others and only employed those who actually walked in a "perfect way?" (Psalm 101:5-6)  How tolerant would we be of that guy? 

It is so easy to be misunderstood when writing.  You cannot sense my tone, but trust me when I say that my heart is heavy over this.  I fear that the modern church would label Abel, Noah and Abraham "self righteous" because they obeyed the commands of God (Hebrews 11:7).  We seem to live in a time when obedience is frowned upon... in the church. 

But the LORD actually says of Noah "in holy fear {Noah} built an ark to save his family" and "by his faith...condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith."

Seeking to obey the commands of God is not self righteous behaviour.  Hebrews 11:7 is one of many places in Scripture that indicates obedience is faith.

Have you heard this new teaching in which obedience and faith are pitted against one another?  As if the grace we receive from God is nullified if we seek to obey God's commands. That Christ's sacrifice and Christ's commands are at enmity with one another. But is this the picture we receive from Scripture?

"...we all once conducted ourselves in the lust of our flesh,
fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind,
and were by nature children of wrath just as the others.
But God, who is rich in mercy... made us alive... For
we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for
good works..."

-Ephesians 2:3-10

Do not get me wrong.  I love grace.  I need grace.  If I am not in Christ I am most hopeless because I personally bring nothing to the table.  But the Lord is clear.  We are created for something- not just to be saved.  In the above verse we are told we used to fulfill the desires of our flesh and the desires of our mind, but now we are created for good works.

The saints of old- Abel, Noah and Abraham- their faith was seen in their works.  Is it so different today?  And yet I have seen believers divide over this issue.  Why?


Short answer? No.  Of course not.

We are saved by faith which is a gift of GOD (Ephesians 2:8). The real question is, does true saving faith obey?
It is recorded in John 14:15 that Jesus said:  "If you love me, you will obey what I command."

Obedience is the fruit (John 15:16, Matthew 7:18-19) that evidences God's work as clearly as an apple evidences an apple tree.
So, if the true believer will seek to obey the commands of Christ.  We have to ask- does GOD really care about what we set before our eyes or how we live (Psalm 101, Philippians 4:8)?

I think it is pretty evident that He does.  And yet I am not here to give you a list of what we should do in order to fulfill these biblical admonitions. I am not even here to say I do this perfectly (I wouldn't dare!). I get my conscience pricked along with the next guy when I read the bold words of David.

But I do see a danger to our own souls when our conscience pricks us and we silence it saying- that is "not salvational" rather than seeking to obey the commands of Christ.  And I do see a saddening trend that endangers the very unity of the Spirit (which we are commanded to keep- Ephesians 4:3) when we despise and disparage those who seek to obey God's commands.   
GOD does not call obedience a "works based salvation." He simply calls it faith.  Let us not create a new Jesus who no longer requires obedience.  And let us not divide over such things.

When I worked in the world I worked hard for a perishing prize.  Paul encourages the saints to work even harder for the prize that does not perish.  I don't believe he was advocating that we can earn our salvation.  I do believe he was calling us to run in such a way as to win the prize (1 Cor. 9:24).
What do you think?



If you enjoyed this post, you may also like the recent sermon entitled "The Law and the Gospel" covering Romans 13:8-14 by Pastor Steve Walker. 


  1. Amen!!!! I love this post! And you are so right, yes we are save by Faith alone, and Grace is a beautiful thing, but our actions must reflect the condition of our heart!!!!

    "..therefore you are a new creation, the old as past the new as come" 2 cor 5:17

    thank you for sharing your words of wisdom with us!

  2. John MacArthur just posted "Getting the Gospel Right" at: http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A162 in which he addresses "a skewed message that has sprouted from right within conservative evangelicalism."

    In this post he refutes the idea that we receive Jesus as merely Savior and not Lord; that faith is not merely believing certain facts (even demons have that kind of faith); and that we are saved "for good works."

    It's a good read.

  3. Rebecca, Steve and I read your 2 posts about the letter to David and then this following one. We really liked it, printed it, and shared it with our children for devotions this evening. I enjoyed reading aloud the fictitious letter to David, and this last post with the further comments on issues being salvational and really considering with joy other family's convictions and rejoicing that they are seeking to obey God's Word in their lives and not just comparing them with our own and to resist the temptation to criticize if they are different than our family's.
    We had a wonderful discussion and a renewed zeal for loving the Body and the precious families that God has placed in our church family here in Tucson.
    Love you Dear girl!

  4. Renee- Thank you. I really appreciate your comment. I don't think I am a powerhouse of wisdom, but how I love the Word of God. He is so wise. Have a blessed day!

    Susie- Wow. You made my day. Thank you for sharing that. I love you my dear friend in Tucson.

  5. This was so well put. Thank you for this post. I will pass it along. :)


  6. Loved it Rebecca! Always insightful and wise. And I remember you in your working girl phase and you were much cuter than the pics above. :-)

    Love ya Sis!

  7. I love this post! Thank you for your well thought out word of wisdom, pointing us to God's word!

  8. Liz and Gabe- Thank you my dear friends. I feel rich with such kindred spirits around me (even if one of you is in Tucson now!).

    May we be spirit and truth worshippers. :)

    John 4:23: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth."

    John Piper: "The two words, spirit and truth, correspond to the how and the whom of worship. Worshiping in spirit is the opposite of worshiping in mere external ways... Worshiping in truth is the opposite of worship based on an inadequate view of God."



  9. Hi Rebecca!

    I gave someone a million dollar tract today and he said his father received one at a festival in your town. Who else would be giving out million dollar tracts in your town? Maybe you! Anyways, he said his father still has it! Hope this encourages you and God uses it to spur you on in the good works he has prepared for you to do.


  10. Hi Cathy!

    I wish I could say it was us- we LOVE those tracts- but we didn't go to a festival with them.

    The truth is, I keep trying to remember to order more and the Lord used your comment to be just the reminder I needed to place our order this morning. :)

    Thank you sweet Sister!


    P.S. Are you ordering them from Way of the Master?

  11. Yes, I order lots as I can give away a whole pack in one night of evangelism. Christmas in the Park was so fun as people loved receiving them, and I was able to give away over a hundred in about an hour. It's so exciting that God would choose to use us in His plan to bring lost souls to Jesus! God bless you in all your efforts!


  12. Cathy,

    I have long appreciated your heart for evangelism. You are contagious!

    I am not sure I have your correct email address, so if you see this comment would you private message me (rebecca.teamjnz@gmail.com)?

    I would love if you would write a short article about the ways you have been able to evangelize the lost as a busy, homeschool mom. :)

    Love you!