Crossroads: Pride

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Ephesians 2:8-10

My Story

As Americans, we focus a lot on accomplishments. We give trophies to kids who win at sports. We sometimes ask “what did you accomplish today?” We focus on the accomplishments of others and reward them for it. I was the overachieving perfectionist as a child (well, I guess I still am as an adult). I didn’t want to settle for anything else than all A’s. I was even given a giant trophy for all A’s for six years at the end of elementary school. Accomplishments were important to me. They were how I measured myself to see if I was worthy. Because I was so focused on accomplishments, failures were even harder for me. Striving to be the best led to a lot of anxiety for me. That’s why Ephesians 2:8-10 is such a welcome passage, although it is at times hard to understand. There’s nothing that I can accomplish that will make God love me more than He already does. God’s grace is a gift that He would’ve given me even if I was terrible at school, sports (I’m terrible at sports), and everything else the world deems important.

Your Story

How focused are you on accomplishments? Do they sometimes feel like the most important thing? Talk to your children about a time when you were focused on accomplishments. How did you feel at that time? Anxious? Stressed? Then talk about accomplishments that have made you feel the best (these could be marrying your spouse, having your children, etc.)

The Bible Story

Read Ephesians 2:8-10. Here it is from the Common English Bible: “You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.”

Although accomplishments are important in this life, there’s nothing we can or have to do to earn grace. God’s grace is a gift. For those of us who sometimes frame our world around accomplishments, grace can be hard to accept. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how much you do for God and for people. These aren’t things that you do to earn God’s grace. Rather, grace is a gift that is freely given, not something for us to be proud of. We may accomplish much, but we also fail rather often too. Praise the Lord that grace is something that isn’t based on our accomplishments.

There are times when we use our accomplishments against others. We start to believe that we are better than someone because we did a better job on a test, playing a sport, or got a promotion that they didn’t get. And yet Ephesians 2 reminds us that God’s salvation and grace isn’t something we did that we can be proud of. God’s grace is available for all. It’s not something for us to use against someone else.

In the last verse of this passage, the author of Ephesians says that “we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things.” Have you ever thought of yourself and others around you as God’s accomplishment? You are worthy of love and of life simply because God created you. YOU are God’s accomplishment. When it seems as if everyone around you is accomplishing more than you, remember that you are God’s accomplishment. Praise God that He sees us that way.

Discussion

• Ask your kids about some of their accomplishments. If they cannot think of any, help them think of “out of the box” accomplishments (for instance, they did a great job loading the dishwasher quickly last night after supper, or they were nice to someone who everyone picks on, or they listened really well that morning, etc.)
• Talk about what it means to be God’s accomplishment—have each person tell each other what good things you see in them, who God created them to be.

Prayer and Action

• As you praise accomplishments this week, remember to also give grace and forgiveness. Help your children offer grace to others as well. Remind each other that God’s grace is more important than our accomplishments.
• Pray: Thank God for His grace. Ask Him to give you and your family extra reminders of grace when you fail. Ask God to help you be humble about your accomplishments. Praise God for creating you.

Jessica Asbell is currently serving as the Minister to Children at First Baptist Church of Roswell, GA. She has worked with children in various capacities at several churches, including Winter Park Baptist in Wilmington, NC, First Baptist of Decatur, GA, and Highland Hills Baptist in Macon, GA. She has a Master of Divinity from McAfee School of Theology and a BBA from Mercer University. In her spare time she loves to read, watch movies, and of course spend time with her sweet kitty, Lucy.

Kevin Head began serving as Minister to Young Families at First Baptist Roswell, Georgia, in February 2012. He has pastored three churches in Kentucky and more recently served as Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Lumberton, North Carolina. In 2007, Kevin and his wife, Amy, began a ministry-based counseling practice called New Perspectives for Life in East Cobb, Georgia. He is a graduate of Furman University (B.A.) and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (Ph.D., M.Div.) in Louisville, Kentucky. Kevin was ordained by the First Baptist Church of Belvedere, South Carolina. His model of ministry is based on John 8 and the amazing, continual grace of Jesus Christ. Kevin and Amy have two children, Jenna and Joshua.

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