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by David Truman

The big question of spiritual life

When it comes to spiritual life, the big question is . . .

"Am I fine and acceptable as I am -- or do I need to work to make myself good and loveable, and to make myself worthy in the sight of the Lord?"

And once we understand that we are good and loveable, as God made all His children to be, here's the second big question . . .

"If I'm fine and acceptable as I am, then why would I bother to do good works (or make efforts to live a good and righteous life)?"

That makes some sense. And, it's easy to see that "self-work" -- working on oneself, trying to improve oneself -- reinforces the basic assumptions that motivate the work in the first place: low self-image, unworthiness, etc. In that respect, self-work would tend to contradict our hard-won understanding that we already are fine and acceptable. Wouldn't it be far better than efforting, to simply accept that God made us perfect, and already loves us and accepts us as His beloved, worthy, and perfect children?

Why do good works?

There are many reasons your heart will readily recognize:

For the love of God: A lover of God wants to please God, by living in a righteous way, and by joyfully obeying Divine promptings to do good and loving deeds, moment to moment.

For the love of humanity: Goodness, and acts of goodness, help and heal our fellows, and make God, others, and ourselves happy.

For goodness' sake: Children of God love Good as well as God. Good works are natural to us, native to us, more compatible with us than wrongdoing.

For our own sake: In our heart, in our own spirit, we object to error and applaud good works. To feel at peace in ourselves, and presentable to God and our fellows, we MUST work our way out of sin and into righteousness.

Avoiding the pitfall

However, we still have the problem noted earlier: that if we work to improve in a compensatory spirit, clinging to the idea that we are bad, the work will be ineffective. This reflects the true principle "compensation is wedded to its root." Therefore, our prescription for freedom is this:

1. DO good works.

2. DO NOT do them in the spirit of compensation, or to create worthiness in the eyes of God. Instead, do good works for reasons that are wholly positive.

Accept God's love

Righteous living need not deny God's present love for us, God's present acceptance of us. It is absolutely crucial to understand that.

EXAMPLE: It is beautiful if your spouse gets joy out of pleasing you, because they love you and desire your happiness. And you can easily understand why they would do so.

But how would it feel if your spouse were always working, in a spirit of insecurity and fear, to become WORTHY of your love? That would be, in some sense, a rejection or denial of your love. How sad that would be!

Love is a good reason to please another. Similarly, rightness is a good reason to work. Rightness is a good reason even to work on oneself, to adjust and uplevel one's habits and beliefs. But not to work on oneself in order to create oneself, or to make oneself worthy of God's love.

Do you see? The imprisoning tendency is to believe that if we work at all, or if we work in earnest, it must be because we "are bad." That, friends, is an outrageous lie! Note that people who think they are bad and needing improvement are not the only ones who work. Many great people, even saints -- indeed, saints most of all -- have worked, and worked hard. But they worked out of goodness, and for goodness sake, and for love's sake -- not because they thought they were bad, and were trying to earn God's acceptance. In that, they show us what is possible for us, and completely natural to us.

The good and beautiful way to live

So much of what this humanity needs to do, and what Heaven's guidance has been encouraging all these years, is this:

We should get OFF of believing we need to work in order to create who we are, in order to create the relationship to God -- and at the same time, we should embrace the need to work for the sake of righteousness and love.

We must curb the bad habit of associating work with penance, with the need to improve oneself, and with the need to earn the love of God, or the love of others. We must be able to do good works and know ourselves to be already good -- yes, all at the same time. That is the True Way, friends.