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Copyright 2000 Carlotta Waldmann Cross Walk Life, Inc. 501 (c)(3)

Cross Walk Life, Inc. is here to provide insights, healing, teaching and training,
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Performance Based Acceptance?
was written by a counselee who had an awesome revelation as Jesus
appeared to her, setting her free from performing for acceptance.

Lists. We make them all the time. There are grocery lists, "honey Do" lists, "to do lists," check off lists, hurricane supply list, and when you are flying, aren't you glad the pilot has a pre-flight check list? Some lists are beneficial in keeping us organized, focused, and on task. But then there are lists that are very devastating to relationships. I am referring to the "expectation" list. These lists are the standards of behaviors expected from people in our relationships. We do not ever actually see these lists, but we are painfully aware of their existence, especially when we have been rejected. At that time we realize that we did not meet the standard of the person from whom we desired acceptance.

Some people strive most to get others to conform to their standards of acceptable behavior. They expect other people to meet their needs. This is how they seek acceptance and value. Others strive to meet the standards of others. They mistakenly believe they are responsible to meet the needs of other people, especially those who are most significant to them. That is the way they seek acceptance and value. Some people do both.

Whether you are the type of person who seeks to get all your needs met by another person and therefore feel accepted and valued, or you are the one who strives to meet all the needs of another person and therefore earn acceptance and value, the end result is the same; you become tired and worn out, exhausted in your own efforts to control people so they conform to your standards in order for your needs to be met or tired and worn out from trying to meet the needs of the other. You may feel inadequate, unacceptable, without value, shame.

I struggled daily in this area because I believed I was only acceptable and valuable if I met the total needs and standards of the people I sought acceptance from. Each time I failed to please a significant person in my life, I felt like a failure, a loser, a mistake, inadequate, worthless. I was totally devastated and I tried all the harder to please the other and to meet all their needs. When I thought I had it all figured out and I thought I was performing well, the standards would change unexpectedly and I would discover that I had not done what was expected of me. I was expected to be a mind reader and to know what the unstated standards are. I lived in constant fear of making mistakes because any error on my part resulted in anger from the person I sought acceptance from. To me, their anger equaled rejection, an indictment that I was unworthy and unacceptable. I grew tired of performing and often prayed that God would just go ahead and take me to be with Him because I was unable to meet the needs of those I loved the most. I believed I was a miserable failure!

Do you see the different lists of expectations here? On the one hand is a person with a list of standards which focus on the things another person will do in order to meet their needs. On the other hand is a person whose list of standards focus on their own behaviors in order to meet the needs of the other and thus to receive acceptance from the other. In both cases, each person is seeking his or her value from another person. In both cases, each person uses a variety of methods to control the situation and the other person so that their own needs are met. In both cases, neither person considers what God's standard is or, at worst, they have rejected God's standards for acceptance.

What is the source of all these different lists of standards? Let's turn to Genesis 2:25 and read through 3:10. (Read the scripture straight from the Bible).

Although God had already said their nakedness was acceptable, Adam and Eve had their own list of standards. Using their own list, they judged their nakedness as unacceptable and then they tried to fix God's oversight by sewing fig leaves together to cover themselves. However, they felt shame when they used their standards to determine their acceptance to God (they hid from His presence). God had already said their nakedness was very good, but they made a judgment using their own list of standards.

Unfortunately, we have inherited the sin nature of Adam and we also make our list of expectations of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Not too long ago, the Lord revealed to me that my emotional and spiritual distress was not the result of the real rejection I was receiving from the significant people in my life. Rather, the distress was the result of my sin. Just as Adam and Eve had become gods unto themselves, I too had become a god unto myself. And I was guilty of having other gods before the one true God, Jesus Christ. I was seeking my value from what others said about me. Not only that, I was guilty of playing god for other people, trying to meet their needs and attempting to control life situations. I was guilty of breaking the first commandment. Exodus 20:3 says: "You shall have no other gods before me." The Holy Spirit convicted me of spiritual idolatry or spiritual adultery; both terms mean the same thing. Spiritual idolatry is the attempt to get your needs met from human sources rather than God, who is the only Source. Although at first this rebuke from the Lord stung me to the core of my very being, I thought I loved Him completely, I had to agree with Him. As long as I was seeking my value from human sources, I did not love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my strength. I confessed my sin and I repented of this sin. God then gently brought me into a much closer relationship with Him. This is what I have learned.

The lists of standards we put on ourselves and others are heavy yokes of burden. Jesus calls us saying, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Jesus' yoke is grace. God's word tells us what he requires. It tells us who we are. His list never changes. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. We must seek our value and needs from God. He is our only source. He alone can meet our needs. Jesus said in John 6:35, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst... the one who comes to me I will by no means cast out." Jesus is saying here He will meet all our needs and he will not refuse us when we believe in Him. This frees us up to extend grace to all. He alone decides what is right and wrong. He alone is the judge. We are to walk in grace, for ourselves and for others. We don't need to perform for God. He created us. He knows us. He died for us while we were still sinners. He's waiting for us with outstretched arms. He has proclaimed we are valuable not because of anything we have done or haven't done, but because He says it is so. Jesus died for us not just for the salvation of our souls but also to give us freedom to live according to His plans and purposes for our life.

When we walk according to our sinful nature and commit spiritual adultery, either in the role of a god or expecting another person to be our god, we will not have the peace that Christ has promised. Instead we will have strife, envy, division, malice, and hatred. James 4 asks: Where do conflicts and disputes come from? You want something and do not have it (you want your standards to be met but they are not being met) and so you commit murder.

Is this something in your life you need to repent of? Jesus said a tree is known by the fruit it produces. (Luke 6:44) Examine the fruit in your most significant relationships with others.

  • Do you get angry if they don't do what you want them to do?
  • Do you try to change or fix the other person?
  • Do you blame? "If you didn't do such and such I wouldn't be unhappy." "You make me feel this way!"
  • Do you have a list of things they must do for you in order for you to feel accepted?
  • Do you sulk and shut off communication with the person who doesn't live up to your expectation?
  • Do you challenge: If you really loved me, you wouldn't do or you would do?
  • Do you shame the person? "I can't believe you did that! What's wrong with you?" Weren't you thinking about me? What will other people think?"
  • Do you try to fix yourself (to fix the other?) "If I get myself straightened out then He/she will change."
  • Do you compromise yourself to be accepted?
  • Do you spend more time examining the faults and shortcomings of the other?
  • Do you use the Bible to drive a person to change?
  • Do you check to see how well they are following the Scriptures? (compared to you?) Do you exert pressure to get them to obey the scriptures they "ought" to be obeying?

Our job as Christian spouses, parents, fellow believers is not to drive each other to perform well- our job is to learn God's plan and to apply it personally.

No man or woman is powerful enough to provide life and value to another. We weren't created by God to "fix" other people according to our own standards. Jesus was given to provide life and value to each one of us and God alone determines the standards.

God once gave me a vision of a little girl riding along in the back seat of a car. She totally trusted her father to drive safely as they traveled through the very busy city streets. She was so filled with trust for her father that she was oblivious to the traffic. In the same way, God has called me to fully trust in Him (his standards) and not worry about the performance of anyone else.

I still struggle with spiritual idolatry. The reason why this is such a fight is because we have a Source we cannot see. Right now we live among people and are surrounded by things we can see. Therefore, it is a fight to keep drawing our sense of value and acceptance from this unseen Source. And all the while, most of what we see and hear demands that we measure up to someone's external standard in order to be acceptable. In this fight we will sometimes experience hurt feelings because of the words spoken about us, false accusations, the demands for performance, or the actions of others. And sometimes we will not know how to appropriately behave ourselves.

There seems to be such a fine line between a healthy expression of love and becoming someone else's god. Therefore, it is important to surround ourselves with grace-full people who will point us toward God's grace, not toward our performance or how things look or what people think. And it is important that we extend grace to others instead of expecting them to conform to our list of standards. God must be the only source of standards. We will do well to remember what Gal. 5:1 says: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (to standards other than God's)

As Christians, God is our Source. He is our need-meeter, our vindicator, our defender, the one who has the last word on our value and acceptance. We are not valuable and acceptable to God because of how much money we make, the clothes we wear, the group we hang with, our church attendance, or because we have been faithful in our giving. Other people can think whatever they want - and they will. What they say might feel hurtful sometimes - but they do not decide the truth about us, God does. Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

There is a song we will be singing soon that puts this total message in a nutshell.

"After all is said and done, there is just one thing that matters. Did I do my best to live for truth; did I live my life for You? Lord your mercy is so great, that you look beyond our weakness. And find purest gold in miry clay, making sinners into saints."

Let us pray.

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us enough to die on the cross for our sins. We are grateful that there is now no condemnation to any of us because we are in You. Forgive us for making our own lists of standards. Cleanse us from spiritual idolatry. Because every believer's sin has been forgiven and cleansed by your blood we ask you to keep us from judging another person according to our own standards and expectations. Your love for us is unconditional and everlasting. We open our heart and life to your love; flow that love through us so that we too can give unconditional love to all you bring into our lives.

You know everything about us and yet you have accepted us just as we are in the beloved. You made each of us unique and special to fulfill your plan. Thank you for our bodies, our abilities, our parents and spouses which you designed as a part of your perfect plan. Thank you for how you have uniquely created each of your children. Cause us to accept your children and to not place on them our own list of expectations (standards). Thank you for the Holy Spirit who lives within us to empower us to obey you in this.

You meet all our needs and we do not need any other source to fill our needs. You have given us all spiritual blessings in Christ. Thank you that you are perfecting in each of us your plan. Thank you for not giving to any of us the overwhelming task of perfecting another person according to our own personal list of standards.

Father, how good it is to be your child. That makes us your responsibility. You are faithful even when we are not. Even now you are changing us bit by bit into your image. Please help us to give ourselves completely to you, to love you with all our heart, with all our soul, and with all our strength. And to love others as you have loved us.

All praise, honor and glory to you, Lord God almighty. Amen.