doing the best one can do, understood correctly

Doing the best one can do sounds like “self-help,” and to the extent that is true it is not Christian. But there’s something to be said for this, if understood correctly.

God’s grace in Christ underlies any good work which is pleasing and acceptable to God, done in God’s love, faith working or expressing itself in love. All of our lives in Christ are to be lived out in that direction. Any good at all that comes from our lives is only because of God’s grace. We can say that any good within creation is because of God’s gifts in creation, speaking now of the present, “old” creation. And any good within new creation is because of God’s gifts in new creation in Christ, the language of God’s grace usually applied here.

Doing the best one can do must be in terms of a response, namely responding to God’s grace in Christ. It is not pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and attempting to do God’s will on our own. It is strictly in response to God’s grace in Christ. And yet within that grace it is something which should characterize our lives.

What that best means is in terms of God’s revealed will in Jesus. And so this can be tricky. We may think something is best when all too often we are resorting to our own, old ways of doing things and navigating life. Acting from fear and anxiety is one such problem for myself. I am better off to let that cloud pass before I act. Looking to the Lord in prayer instead of doing my best in panic.

Again, this whole idea can be nothing more than a trap. We may simply resort to our own old ways of doing the best we can, rather than looking to God through Jesus for the new way we’re to develop as a habit in our lives. A good prayer to pray with reference to this:

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.

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