Most of what we do in life is performance based. When I was in school, my grades were not based on my intentions, but on the quality of the work I did. Each year at my job I have a meeting with my boss to go over a performance appraisal. We look at the work I’ve done and the impact it’s had. The more boxes I check off on that form, the greater my raise. Since we were born, others have evaluated our performance and decided our worth. It’s something that has been ingrained in us since day one. That’s why it’s often a shock to us that God doesn’t give us salvation because of our performance.
In Psalm 51, you will find one of the greatest prayers in the Bible. David had just gotten a married woman pregnant, then had her husband killed and married her to cover it up. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David regarding his sin. Instead of getting defensive or making excuses, David wept and begged God for forgiveness. In verses 16-17 he prayed, “For the source of your pleasure is not in my performance or the sacrifices I might offer to you. The fountain of your pleasure is found in the sacrifice of my shattered heart before you” (TPT).
If we were tasked with swimming from the US to the UK, some of us wouldn’t make it very far. Other might make it a few miles, but none of us would make it across. Our performance will never bridge the gap between our sin and God’s holiness. The only way to cross over is to have a repentant heart. Jesus is in the boat of salvation waiting to pick us up and take us across, but we have to understand it’s not about our performance. It’s about His grace. There’s nothing you or I can do to make Him love us more or less. There’s nothing we can do to earn salvation. It’s a free gift that comes from confessing our sins and trusting in His kindness.