Where’s Your Works, Man? The Difference Between Overflow & Earning

Is there a man out there good enough by on his own strength  to open heaven’s gates with the snap of his fingers and stroll through them in a righteous familiarity? If there is, he’s an utter anomaly, for humanity has not been in that win column since Satan whispered his bread and butter lie: You’ll become like God. Yet here we are in the modern day church, dropped to the canvas because we are convinced that if we just do enough, God will finally be willing enough to have mercy and come meet with us. If we just donate enough to missions. If we just volunteer at enough outreaches. If we just strive a little bit more, we can finally come home to peace. Unfortunately, we walk away with only a momentary sense of satisfaction because the next sin will have us playing catch up. Amidst our frantic pace, we dash past the cross, with each of those same sins soaked to the core with Jesus’ redeeming blood, and the throne room remains empty while holding an unfulfilled reservation for one.

The church has adopted society’s obsession with numbers, and an impact can be strictly correlated to the cold inquiries of how many and how much. It’s become about how much money we make and how many projects we’ve completed for the Lord lately. While the more-the-merrier approach is a holy pursuit, the actions we carry cannot replace the presence of the Lord. Look around you and you’ll find thousands of people doing good works as well. Unfortunately, good works don’t reserve us a seat in the Lamb’s Book of Life. In the church’s present state, it’s not the good works that have become the problem; it’s the condition of our hearts. There’s a divide between the overflow and the earning. The overflow is the new creation in Christ nature that has us do the good deeds as a result of Jesus’ love for us. On the other hand, the earning is host to the old man. The old man believes the lie that he can do enough good things to outweigh the wrong he does. The old man treats works as a necessary chore, a day job that is required to punch in and out from like a time card. Despite their life-altering impact, good works don’t replace the Holy Spirit pruning you continually into the nature of Christ.

What is incomprehensibly fortunate for us is that God is not a distant benefactor who acts as a credit card in the clouds in order to keep us from bothering him. The veil in the temple was sliced from top to bottom so that we might commune with God as an everyday occurrence. When one meets with the Godhead, it’s the rekindling of the original revelation in the Garden of Eden. In Eden, God walked with Adam in the cool of the morning, and the same access has been purchased through the purifying blood of Jesus. Communing is the pathway to peace, and the works that follow are the aftershocks. Waiting on the Lord in stillness is the Holy forge that will fill the fissures of a shattered soul and reinforces who God wants you to be in the kingdom.

The presence of God is irrevocably linked to the external deeds that we carry out. Our inner man is not on display for others to see, yet it’s still the point of origin for the actions that are yielded. If the Holy Spirit is rolling up His sleeves on your inner man, it’s only going to be a matter of time before the outside results are apparent to those around you. If a Christian abides in the presence of God, then he/she will see that good deeds are a consequence of what the Holy Spirit is through us, rather than a spiritual bank account where we can earn God’s love. There’s a multitude of deceived Christians who, once accepting the Lord’s redemption, have turned back to the mindset that they can insert the deeds as a replacement for communing with the Lord. That’s a tactical error in the spirit, because without having a chat with the Holy Spirit and undergoing internal maintenance, we become robotic and mechanical. Jesus drank the cup of wrath to the dregs so you could have a relationship with Him, and with God’s presence as a lifeline, the good works will become “muscle memory.” The everyday interactions are an outward reflection of the inward fire.

The critical element I keep forcing is the Holy Spirit. His presence gets us burning within and the “sum of the presence” equals vitality in our works. When the Holy Spirit has a seat in your life, the deeds you do will most certainly be crafted by God for His glory. When a Christian neglects to nurture His relationship with the Godhead, it’s inevitable that his godly endeavors will be forced and strained, carried on by his own power. Powerful things can be done by a man’s own sweat, but God makes the impossible an earth-shattering reality. Look at the Centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. He was noted for giving alms to the poor and praying to God daily. One day, he had a vision and an angel said that his “prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering to God” (NIV). Cornelius was due for an upgrade, and Peter was the man to aid in its inauguration. After being directed in a vision to meet with Cornelius, Peter eventually preached the gospel to Cornelius and a large gathering. Most importantly, all who heard the message had the Holy Spirit drop on them. Cornelius is exemplary because even before he met Peter, his works for the poor were done out of his devotion to God and not as a means of measuring up. Once the Holy Spirit came upon him and his family, his upgrade was secure, and it was a testament to God’s desire to see Cornelius increase in his overflow. With that in mind, it would be prudent to stay in touch with the Holy Spirit. When He’s at your side, the works you carry out will till the ground for Christ, encourage those around you, strengthen your own faith, and allow God the space to cook up transformation.

The humbling aspect between one’s relationship with God and the efforts we undertake for Him is that perfection is not required to walk in His favor and restoration. What’s necessary is fiery desire to obey the Father, speak to Jesus, and move when the Spirit calls. While works don’t makes us holy, the blood of Jesus does. Once we accept that, we can feely approach the God’s throne of grace with confidence (Hebrews 4:16). Tasting God’s holiness will inevitably have us fix our eyes on obedience, and as a result, the works will begin accelerate. The church cannot afford in these last days to become shallow and interpret seeking God’s presence as an excuse for apathy. What this article is advocating is the coexistence between communing with God and outreaching, for they’re a pair that mutually affects each other. The church is beginning to return to the framework of the apostles in Acts, and if one looks studiously, he would see that the early church spent ample time in both seeking God’s direction and ministering to the lost. Just remember, if the Holy Spirit is not present, pride and foolish squabbles will have a key to create havoc with your good intentions. Stick with the Holy Spirit, and before you know it, God’s presence will be accompanied by direction.

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