A dear man of faith, Jerry Bridges, went to be with the Lord on Sunday, March 6th. Jerry was a writer and teacher of many years with the Navigators. He was a man humbled by the good news of the gospel and skillful in making it plain for Christians.
When I attended the Sovereign Grace Pastor’s College in 2008-2009, Jerry taught a week on Grace and Sanctification. I still benefit to this day from his grasp of grace. One of his writings that influenced me the most was his book, The Discipline of Grace. In it he writes of a Christian having a good day and then a bad day, and considering the favor of God. It is something that I can relate to and I hope you can as well. Bridges writes,
Consider two radically different days in your own life. The first one is a good day spiritually for you. You get up promptly when your alarm goes off and have a refreshing and profitable quiet time as you read your Bible and pray. Your plans for the day generally fall into place, and you somehow sense the presence of God with you. To top it off, you unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is truly searching. As you talk with the person, you silently pray for the Holy Spirit to help you and to also work in your friend’s heart.
The second day is just the opposite. You don’t arise at the first ring of your alarm. Instead, you shut it off and go back to sleep. When you finally awaken, it’s too late to have a quiet time. You hurriedly gulp down some breakfast and rush off to the day’s activities. You feel guilty about oversleeping and missing your quiet time, and things just generally go wrong all day. You become more and more irritable as the day wears on, and you certainly don’t sense God’s presence in your life. That evening, however, you quite unexpectedly have an opportunity to share the gospel with someone who is really interested in receiving Christ as Savior.
Would you enter those two witnessing opportunities with a different degree of confidence? Would you be less confident on the bad day than on the good day? Would you find it difficult to believe that God would bless you and use you in the midst of a rather bad spiritual day?
If you answered yes to those questions, you have lots of company among believers. I’ve described these two scenarios to a number of audiences and asked, ‘Would you respond differently?’ Invariably, about 80 percent indicate that they would. They would be less confident of God’s blessing while sharing Christ at the end of a bad day than they would after a good one. Is such thinking justified? Does God work that way? The answer to both questions is no, because God’s blessing does not depend on our performance.
Why then do we think this way? It is because we do believe that God’s blessing on our lives is somehow conditioned upon our spiritual performance. If we’ve performed well and had a ‘good’ day, we assume we are in a position for God to bless us. Oh, we know God’s blessings come to us through Christ, but we also have this vague but very real notion that they are also conditioned by on our behavior. A friend of mine used to think, If I do certain things, then I can get God to come through for me.
Such thinking is even stronger when we’ve had a ‘bad’ day. There is virtually no doubt in our minds that we have forfeited God’s favor for some period of time, most likely until the next day. I’ve asked people why they think God would probably not use them to share the gospel with someone on a ‘bad’ day. A typical reply is, ‘I wouldn’t be worthy,’ or ‘I wouldn’t be good enough.’
Such a reply reveals an all-too-common misconception of the Christian life: the thinking that, although we are saved by grace, we earn or forfeit God’s blessings in our daily lives by our performance.
You can also see C. J. Mahaney’s tribute to Jerry Bridges.
 Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace: God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness, New ed. (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2006), 13-15.