Do you think God will bless you only if you are good enough? Or do you think you are sick or suffering because you have not been good enough in God's eyes? Are you consumed with what you think you ought to be doing, with what your life should look like?
We want to feel like we are doing the best we can – being a good mom, a good friend, a good church member, a good Christian. Hoover felt that way. But then she discovered her faulty thinking. She came to realize that the most important thing to do is not be good, but to trust God and acknowledge her weakness. Let's admit what we all know from experience, she writes. “We can't live this Christian life. We need help.” (95)
And that's good news for us. Sometimes we allow our external activity to take priority over internal transformation. That's because we're gospel illiterate. Oh, we know the gospel, but we don't know how to apply it. “We know what the gospel means for salvation, but we have no idea what it means for every day.” (46)
Hoover has many insights for goodness obsessed people, people who try to live by the “goodness” gospel. She reminds us of the danger of seeking man's approval, and of trying to win God's approval too. “The Christian life really is impossible,” she writes. (92) Yet, “God gives us what we need to live the Christian life, and he gives it in the form of himself.” (93)
Two of her insights were particularly meaningful for me. I found that spiritual disciplines are not meant to be replacements for the Holy Spirit. They are intended to be ways to ask for the Holy Spirit and hear from Him. (103) I also understood from this book that living by the goodness gospel will lead us to doubt God when we suffer. We might think we've done something wrong and not been good enough for God's blessing. But that is wrong thinking and takes us away from God's plan for our lives.
If you feel caught in that trap of trying to be good enough for God, this book is good news. Hoover is committed to live in grace and has done an excellent job in helping you do that too. There is a good Discussion Guide so this would make a great choice for a woman's study group. As Hoover writes, “We can live in grace and offer the same grace to others.” (122) I highly recommend this book. Live in grace.
Food for thought: “The more we fear God and what he thinks, the less it matters what others think and say about us.” (119)
Christine Hoover is a pastor's wife, mom, speaker, and author of The Church Planting Wife. She has written for The Gospel Coalition, Desiring God, and Christianity Today. She lives in Virginia. You can find out more about her and follow her blog at http://www.gracecoversme.com/.
Baker Books, 224 pages.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.