Because He loves me and He accepts me, I do not have to do things just to build up my résumé. I do not have to do things to make me look good. I can do things for the joy of doing them. I can help people to help people – not so I can feel better about myself, not so I can fill up the emptiness.
With every other form of identity and every other ‘badge’ or accolade we might award ourselves, it is always a case of the verdict coming from the performance. We might find security in labelling ourselves a good person, a free person, a religious person, a moral person. Whatever it is, it is always the same: the performance leads to the verdict. But the verdict never comes. Madonna said so, and she should know. Madonna has done things that you and I are never going to do – and it is still not enough. Madonna has heaps of talent, she has tremendous guts. But even Madonna, despite everything she has done, says that she has still not found the ultimate verdict she is looking for. The performance never gets the ultimate verdict.
But in Christianity, the verdict can give you the performance. Yes, the verdict can give you the performance. How can that be? Here is Paul’s answer: he is out of the courtroom, he is out of the trial. How? Because Jesus Christ went on trial instead. Jesus went into the courtroom. He was on trial. It was an unjust trial in a kangaroo court – but He did not complain. Like the lamb before the shearers, He was silent. He was struck, beaten, put to death. Why? As our substitute. He took the condemnation we deserve; He faced the trial that should be ours so that we do not have to face any more trials. So I simply need to ask God to accept me because of what the Lord Jesus has done. Then, the only person whose opinion counts looks at me and He finds me more valuable than all the jewels in the earth.
Tim Keller, The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness