I Tried It…It Doesn’t Work

September 12, 2023

You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. James 2:19 NLT

We don’t put our confidence in rituals performed… Philippians 3:3 CEB

"Why ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good." Matthew 19:16-17 NLT

I remember back in the day when a typewriter/word-processor was my best friend. When computers started to become personal sized (yes, I am that old 😊), my husband jumped right in and got us one. He told me how it would change my life and help me so much. I was a very

slow adopter. That computer took too long to warm up, looking up things in the encyclopedia was faster than waiting for AOL to whirr into action. I could have two or three paragraphs typed before the computer was ready. When I told him it didn’t work for me, Charlie kept urging me to stick with it. He said, “This is what you need, I promise. Your old ways just don’t work.”

And of course he was right. I’m writing this on my computer—I couldn’t live my life without it! My confidence was misplaced.

In a big spiritual way, that’s what happens to so many of us. We place our confidence in the practices and conclusions that seem most reasonable and convenient to us. We think they will please God and get us to heaven. For instance, we think believing in God, having faith, will do it. In fact, that’s one of the things people say when I ask them about someone who has died, and they want me to officiate at the funeral. “Oh, I am sure he is in heaven. He believed in God.” But James tells us, no matter how hard we try, that won’t work. He says that even the demons believe. It just won’t work.

We try rituals, routines, traditions. We go to church weekly, have devotions every morning, pray the rosary, get baptized, dedicate our children. Besides all the things we DO, we also have a list of things we DON’T do. We have confidence because we prioritize regular religious practices and feel really good about ourselves (and perhaps slightly superior righteously) because we do. But our habitual goodness, our regular righteousness just doesn’t do the job. Paul says we can’t put confidence in rituals performed.

How about good works? Making sure your good outweighs your bad? Jesus shoots that one down completely. He says no one is even truly good, let alone good enough to satisfy God. Goodness and right behavior won’t work. We can try them all and come up empty.

  • Jesus, show me anything I am trusting besides You to make me acceptable to God. I love to try to measure up and feel good about myself instead of simply trusting You. Help me let go of what is comfortable and reasonable to me, and simply receive YOU.