Doing Your Best

I wonder, have you done your best for Jesus? I know that we live under all that grace nonsense now (my, how I miss a good old-fashioned stoning!) but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a good guilt trip now and again about your works or lack thereof. Jesus is keeping score.

Did you waste a precious minute today? Did you spend ten minutes goofing off when you could have been praying? Did you need to eat at that restaurant (and leave no tract with your tip!) instead of giving the money to faith-promise missions? Obsess, my friend, obsess.

Never forget that God only values you for what you can do for Him. And by “Him” I mean me, of course. Do you have any experience driving a bus? No? What about using a toilet scrubber? Be careful or your wood, hay, and stubble will make quite the bonfire on judgment day.

You’ll never be good enough no matter how hard you try — so try harder! Have you done your best? The answer is always no. Now get back to work.

67 thoughts on “Doing Your Best”

  1. Actual comment I read from a Fundy about Jesus keeping score: “We are all going to have to face Christ some day. I don’t know about you, but I’m not looking forward to it.” Nice to know that he’s dreading meeting the one he calls his SAVIOR.

    Praise God for releasing me from the bondage of works!

    Oh, and I love the T-shirt.

  2. @Kim: although I never voiced it that way, that was pretty much how I felt as a fundy. Judgment day and facing Christ were something I feared, not something I eagerly anticipated. Apparently Christ’s death was sufficient for all our sins before conversion but none after. Also funny how neither “wasting time” nor “Faith Promise” appear in the Bible (and yes, I know all the alleged proof texts to support both).

  3. This goes hand in hand with the question, “When Jesus comes, what will He find you doing?”

    In case Christ’s love isn’t enough to motivate you, guilt is a good alternative.

  4. “Have you done your best for Jesus?” Ironic, given how much they scorn the non-KJV versions of 2 Tim 2:15.
    Yeah, I too used to live in fear and guilt that I wasn’t living up to the bill (from quite a young age), more or less thanks to judgment house and Jack Chick. And I wasn’t even IFB. Thank God I don’t subscribe to that brand of “Christianity” anymore.

  5. This guilting the flock approach leads a braggadocious mannagawd to use himself and others in the leadership eshalon as examples of proper fundy behavior.

    “Bro. So-n-So used to spend 4 hours a day in his prayer closet.”

    “Each and every year there are those in this church who skip family vacations, mortgage their homes, and sell their second cars so they can give GENEROUSLY to our building program!”

    “I knocked on 400 doors this week myself…”

    It is good to be away from all that.

  6. Truth: A church I attended years ago established a “servant” award in honor of a man whose “tireless” service working three jobs and several church ministries left his wife a widow. He was 37 and had 3 young sons when his heart gave out. BTW, his wife did not consider his devotion to church ministries instead of to his family to be very honorable. Very sad.

  7. “Give of your best to the Master;
    Naught else is worthy His love.”

    The fundy mentality ascribes worth to doing… not being.
    We are worthy for what we do for Christ not who we are in Chirst.

    Work, for the night is coming,
    Work through the sunny noon;
    Fill brightest hours with labor,
    Rest comes sure and soon.
    Give every flying minute,
    Something to keep in store;

  8. @ Don,

    I HATED that song. Near the end before I left I actually used to read the words ahead of time and sit them out if I didn’t agree with them.

    You picked a perfect example. 🙁

  9. Sadly, this one describes me the way I used to be to a “T”. A great big red T, designed to look like a cross, left permanently in a public place where sinners could see it so that I could be a perfect witness ALL the time. Did anybody ever stop to think that God’s grace wouldn’t have much of a point without us being less than perfect and needing it?

  10. I agree – and when you’re dealing with a first-born, those words ring a death knell. We already have our high jump bar too high to reach. And, you’re right about it not being for Jesus. It was always to pacify the pastor. And it was NEVER enough.

  11. Oh boy, today’s sermon would have made every last pharisee…I mean IFB preacher squirm in his seat. Our Pastor preached out Phillipians 3. In that passage Paul addresses the error of Jesus + works or as we know it, making ones self righteous by striving to live according to the rules and regulations of men….traditions of men.
    Paul had nothing nice to say about those who wish to bind us to the law. He called them dogs, evil workers and false circumcised. As pastor said Paul addressed those who fell into this error by giving himself as an example of the perfect pharisee before he came to a saving knowledge of Christ. He said, you want to play the pharisee game, well let me tell you what a good pharisee I was. He then lists the things he did when he lived as one. In the end he concludes that all his works he counts to be loss…rubbish, in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
    What a refreshing sermon from the ones I suffered under for so many years as a fundy. This sermon validated all I have felt about fundy’s for years but never saw it so clearly why in the Word of God before. Fundy’s aren’t harmless folks who are a bit off track they are WAY off track… tragically of track. They preach Jesus + works to make one right with God. That is bad, very bad doctrine.
    Praise God he has set us free!

  12. My husband asks the congregation in church this morning if we can do anything to make God angry at us. I think “yes” but he says, “No! We are forgiven. Our lives are hid in Christ. He remembers our sins no more.” I know all those verses so why do I still feel very,very sure that God is mad at me and anything I try to do to please Him will never be good enough because I’ll always mess it up? (@ Susan, I’m a firstborn too.) My husband added that knowing we are forgiven and accepted lets us live in joy and freedom. Of course it would! But doesn’t Jesus expect my best and when I don’t do my best, isn’t He dissatisfied?

  13. I hear you, pastor’s wife. When I left my last fundy church, I was so down and out physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually from trying harder, and never feeling I had succeeded. Jesus calls us to come to him, and he will give us rest.

  14. I agree with Camille on this one. Every one of us who has been indoctrinated with this mentality can identify with the hopelessness it produces. THANK YOU, Darrell.

  15. The former pastor of the fundamentalist church I formerly attended did not consider Ray Boltz soundtracks to be “CCM,” so those songs were standard fare for “special music.” Recently, I remembered the song “Does He Still Feel the Nails.” The idea that Jesus is continually sacrificed and/or feels pain or hurt when we don’t live up to our best abilities can slip in subtly through sappy nonsense like that song just as easily as it can sneak in through a screamin’ sermon.

  16. I remember that song. One of my faves as a fundy, sadly.

    Wonder how my old fundy world reacted when Boltz came out. I was out of it by that time already.

  17. “Obsess, my friend, obsess.”

    Oh, man. Well put. Even though I never felt at home in fundyland, my heart still absorbed this stuff. I felt like maybe if I could just beat myself into the shape they said I was supposed to be in, then I’d get an epiphany and all the unbiblical stuff I was hearing would finally seem right.

    I heard many times that if you weren’t holy enough (by an impossible definition of holiness, of course), then God wouldn’t hear your prayers. But I knew that if God weren’t willing to hear my pleas for help, then I’d never be able to do better. The downward spiral of hopelessness brought on by this teaching led me close to suicide many times. Even with just a few years of exposure, it took a long time for my thinking to straighten out. It must be worse for those of you who grew up in it.

    Now I think twice about teachings that make much of my accomplishments and little of Christ’s.

  18. I read this post this morning before church. This was probably the single most therapeutic thing I could have read. I’ve (finally) given up on IFB, just this year, and I am feeling more and more free every week. Later this month, I start the membership process for *my* EFCA church. This post sums up the WHY. 🙂 so, thanks.

  19. I had this conversation recently and it bugged me for weeks and then there was today and this post.

    “I notice that you are dressing casually for church. Looks like ths same clothes you would wear out to the mall.”
    “Yep, I used to be the suit and tie type but I realized that I don’t have to dress up for church. I notice you still wear the suit and tie.
    “Yeah, I just believe we should give the Lord our best. ”

    If that is his conviction then I can’t knock it. But it bothered me then and it bothered me this morning that all those who were “serving” either as ushers or greeters, deacons or pastors (we have multiple elders and we are not IFB or fundy at all) all had on the uniform.
    It struck me as odd and this post made me think about it. Why do we dress up to go to church? Why do we put on our “Sunday Best?” What does that mean?
    Is the guy in the suit and tie going to be loved more by God than someone like me who shows up in New Balance, bluejeans, a shirt and a leather vest? (see my fundy programming kicking in?) Even now, being out of the whole fundy world of cult crap, I revert to fundy thinking… well DOES God love them more? By not wearing the whole suit and tie get-up does that mean I am not giving my best?
    I know that God dows not look on the outter appearance but it is hard to get the fundy programming out of your head, “what is on the inside will show up on the outside” type thinking.
    Sorry for the downer… it’s just been one of those days.

  20. @Darrell, our first exchange (re: widows), had I given in to my bred-in black-and-white thinking, could’ve put me off from SFL permanently. But–I’m learning: no one (person or thing) is all good or all bad. And this post is the perfect example of that–because you’ve neatly summed up the core of fundy thinking, which also comprises the chief error of its ways. I am grateful that you (and others like you, like Matthew Paul Turner/@jesusneedsnewpr) are exposing this crap. More power to ya.

  21. @ Sandra, thanks for your summary of your pastor’s sermon. What a great way to start my day. I have heard this passage preached but always in context of the Pharisees doing works for salvation. This was great! This post has been great in helping me sort out my IFB past.

    I am not only a first-born but was an only child for 12 years. Soon after my baby brother was born my air force dad got orders to relocate to ND where we joined a tiny fundy church. This was a first IFBC for our family, though we had always gone to Baptist churches. My only friends were the pastor’s well-trained, lock-stepped, “peculiar” daughters. The church was my whole social life. I was saved in that church. And indoctrinated with this stuff and nonsense. I clearly recall us teen girls doing a trio for church (this was in the 60s) and one line in the song talked about us blessing God. I said we needed to change the words, the song was wrong, because there was no way we could ever bless God. Now where did that come from?

    My dad returned from a year overseas to an awkward teenage girl socialized by fundies and his adorable 2-year old only son. Guess who got the attention from Dad? Dad wasn’t good with teens and never good at showing affection. He assumed that since I was a teen I would be into rock music, drugs, whatever his buddies’ kids were doing. Nothing like that for me, not in fundyland! But he figured if he scolded me for those things ahead of time, I’d not fall into them later. I felt I could never please him, and that was a picture in real life of what I had come to believe of my Heavenly Father. Years later a pastor in another church in another place was helping me through my struggles (which I believe were a result of this thinking) and he said to me, “God thinks you are magnificent!” That was so opposite of what I had been taught that his words hit me almost like a physical blow. I think that is what started my rehabilitation. Now I find God is awesome and wonderful. I find it a huge adventure to follow him and see what he has up his sleeve. Frivolous as that may sound, there are times when I think God just sits back and chuckles in delight over the delight he brings into my life! My husband and I have a saying: “It never gets old!” What a change from all those years of feeling driven to please God and constantly falling short. I don’t stress over being imperfect anymore. I figure perfect is coming. Catch up with me in a couple hundred years.

  22. @ Kate I know where you are coming from. My home life was not so great and my IFB father was never ever satisfied with what I did. I was more active in service at our church than any other teen in my youth group, not because of pressure from them, but just because I wanted to be. Even though I sang in teen choir, did teen visitation( we had it once a month), bus ministry every Sunday, played the piano for children’s choir, “bus” teen church, for offertories, regular rotation before and after church and even played for prison ministry a couple of times, starting at 14 years old , I wasn’t doing enough because I didn’t sing in the adult choir and I didn’t go on visitation every week. He told me that God was never going to bless me in my life if I didn’t go on visitation every week. When people talk about Him being my father, it’s hard for me to not see someone who is totally dissatisfied with everything about me and that I’ll never be good enough for. My dad is so unhappy with my choices now, that he doesn’t even really talk to me anymore. He just asks to speak to my kids when he calls, but I’m growing and learning and so happy to be out of the bondage of legalism that it seems a small price to pay.

  23. Sorry, my brain isn’t functioning correctly this early. The sentence where I say “When people talk about Him being my father”, I’m referring to God . I reread my post and wanted to clarify that and apologize for my atrocious grammar this morning. 🙂

  24. @alm517 & Loren: Ditto that. I, too, am the oldest child and have NEVER been able to make my fundy dad happy. Never. Have I carried that over to my view of my heavenly father? You bet. It’s something I still struggle with despite having left that world.

  25. I fell for this BS as a fundy. It’s ever enough, remorse after remorse. Then I figured out that holiness is not perfection, it’s being yourself. God is God. JimE is JimE. I just need to trust God.

    @All, this site has revealed many short-comings in my own life. It has been a period of growth and self-confrontation. Thanks to all. Thanks Darrell. For those comfortable with it, check out “Never Enough” by Five Finger Death Punch.

    @Don, fundies are face-men, always shinny and happy, dressed nice and omniscient. Thanks for sharing; I don’t consider your post a downer.

  26. When visiting my parents recently, I innocently mentioned the book “The Five Love Languages” and how much I enjoyed it. My IFB, KJVO dad went into a rant about how all we need is God’s Word and how man’s wisdom is stupid. It was just nasty. I’m so sick of his brand of Christianity. There is no love or gentleness thus IMO no godliness either!!! He thinks he’s so holy because he doesn’t read other versions of the Bible and won’t listen to CCM, but he’s narrow-minded and mean. I went to BJU, graduated summa cum laude, married a pastor, love the Lord – what more can he want? He’s just an unhappy, angry man (yet I love him still!) When my husband asked us in church yesterday if we can do anything to make God angry at us and he said “no”, inwardly my answer was “yes” because I do still have God/father issues!

  27. @Pastor’s Wife I feel that pain. The stuff that comes out of my dad’s mouth is shocking & enraging, and rarely know where to even start when trying to figure out how he thinks that it’s OK to do the stuff he does/say the stuff he says. Still love my dad.

  28. Gosh, maybe I was more confrontative with my parents than you guys. I just didn’t put up with it. When my father said women shouldn’t be pastors, I said, so those women in Acts who were ministering weren’t pastors? When my mother said marriage was a sacrament between a man and a woman, I reminded her that she was Baptist, and Baptists didn’t have sacraments. Failure is only shameful IF you didn’t try hard enough. Other than that, failure can be a great way to learn.

  29. Earlier Don mentioned two songs that seem to overemphasize our efforts instead of God’s grace: “Work for the Night is Coming” and “Give of Your Best to the Master.” The original post of course references “I Wonder Have I Done My Best for Jesus”. Are there other hymns that you no longer feel comfortable singing? Of course there’s ones that have been referenced on other threads that we find silly or dated or overly sentimental, but I’m wondering have you found hymns that perhaps you grew up singing in your IFB church that you now think are doctrinally inaccurate?

  30. @ Dan Keller, you hit the nail on the head. I’m totally non-confrontive with my parents, although I try sometimes. The way things went in our house historically was the father yells and rants and raves and the wife and daughters cry and/or avoid. I would like to be strong enough to speak the truth in love but it’s hard. OK, now with referencing father issues (which was tied in to the original post because we were talking about how we can never please our dads) and my previous question about songs, have I totally hijacked this thread? Oops!

  31. @pastor’s wife I would also submit, “In Times Like These”

    In times like these, we need a Savior
    In times like these, we need an anchor
    Be very sure, be very sure
    Your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock

    The rock is Jesus, yes He’s the One
    This rock is Jesus, the only One
    Be very sure, be very sure
    Your anchor holds, and grips the Solid Rock

    …again more works sanctification in song, I don’t hold on to Him, He holds on to me…

  32. @ Dan Keller There’s no point in confronting my Father who prides himself on his immovability. He’s proud of the fact that like his KJB, he’s not going to change. There is no speaking the truth in love to him for lots of reasons that I can’t really get into here and it’s easier and better to just let it go. It makes me angry at times and his treatment of me and his inability to accept me or love me like I am is always painful but since I’ve found a great deal of love and acceptance in my husband and children and with my new church family and it softens the blow so I can almost let it go.

  33. @ Kate, I am glad you were blessed by the sermon as I was/am. =) Like you, I’d never heard it preached in a truly biblical manner. It was such an eye opener for me.

    I was blamed for a persons attempted suicide when I was 15 yrs. old by our then pastor. To this day I have no idea why he decided to place the blame on me. I was a very quiet, compliant child & very shy. Anyway, there I was sitting in his office as he passed judgement upon me that I was the reason this person is lying in a hospital bed fitting for their life. (Btw, when I spoke to the person about her attempted suiced, she had no clue why the pastor said that either)
    Do you know what kind of damage this man caused me for all these years? Here I was a 15 yr old kid being told I was the reason someone tried(unsucessfully praise the Lord) to take thier life. In my 15 yrs old mind, this wasn’t just anyman, this was the pastor, gods annointed, accusing me of being such a horrible person that another person would rather die then be in my presence for one more moment. That definately gave me the idea that God was not nor ever would be pleased with me.
    I spent the next 15 yrs. trying my best to make God happy with me. In my mind, to make God happy I had to make the church & pastor happy. When the Lord brought us out of fundyland He showed me what true grace is. I don’t have to work at making God happy with me, I am covered by Christ blood and that makes me right with Him. It is nothing I do, but what He did.

  34. @ Sandra, it has been my experience that when the blame for something is placed on someone else, it is to get the spotlight on the one doing the blaming. I suspect that the pastor knew way more than he let on and the tragic attempt was going to point to him, so lets find a scapegoat.
    I have been struggling with how can God allow these men to continue to preach…..and for years! PTL you are out of there.

  35. I just heard a message about the “wood, hay and stubble” verse. I always took it as, whatever you do, do it for the right reasons. God knows if you are doing something for the wrong reason– even something good. If you give to the poor, but only do it to make yourself look good, then your works, though good, have selfish intentions and aren’t pleasing to God. But if you give to the poor because you love people, have compassion, want to share with those less fortunate, etc. then God is pleased because your intentions are pure. I never took that verse as “you’re not doing enough for God and when you get to heaven you will be disappointed for wasting your time and not doing enough for God.”

    My advice: don’t ever listen to anything that’s meant to be a guilt trip, unless you’ve truly done something wrong. Don’t try to please people. My parents aren’t Christians, don’t go to church, don’t really encourage me to go. In high school, many times I felt that no matter what I did, they weren’t happy with me for more than five minutes. I was an A/B student, worked 25 hours a week, went to church every time the doors were open, visited my neighbors who are all elderly, and cleaned and did laundry for six people. But they didn’t seem happy. My mom was always bitter, and if I did something she didn’t agree with, she would be mad at me and often blame or insult my church, school, or sometimes my friends. But I learned to push those thoughts aside because I’m not doing all of that for my parents. Ultimately, I do my best to please God. I get good grades because I want to do well in school and be educated, I visit my neighbors because I love them, and I did the laundry so that I could take some of the responsibility from my family.

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