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Session 3

Are you stuck in the performance trap?

Read: Galatians 2:11-21

From the time we are babies, we are rewarded for hard work. We are promised a toy if we don’t scream during the shopping trip. When we are brave at the doctor’s office, we get a sucker. Teachers reward good behavior with stickers. As we get older, we work hard for good grades to get into a great college. We bust it at work to earn the promotion. Our whole lives teach us that success is the result of following the rules and putting forth the effort.

Maybe that’s why grace is a hard concept to understand. If I’m messed up and sinful, I’m not deserving. There must be something I need to do for Jesus to accept me. And once I am His, there must be a good behavior chart. There must be a list of things I have to do to be a successful Christian.

This isn’t a new struggle. Galatians 2 describes Paul’s reaction to Peter falling into the performance trap. Peter had begun doing what was right in other’s eyes, shutting out a whole group of people in the process. In Galatians 2:21, Paul reminds us that following a list of rules or checking off a to-do list is not necessary: “... if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

We are made right with God through Jesus’ sacrifice.

We are made right with God through Jesus’ sacrifice. Period. Galatians 2:16 says, “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.”

Peter was trying to follow man-made rules instead of the law God wrote on his heart. Focusing on a list of do’s and don’ts removes our focus from Jesus. When we decide to follow Jesus, He changes our heart. If we keep our focus on Him, He will guide our steps.


  • Are you resisting Jesus because you feel you haven’t performed well enough? If you are a Christian, have you replaced your focus on Jesus with trying to please Him?
  • Do you trust that as you follow Jesus He will direct you and make you who He wants you to be?

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