You can only pretend for so long before someone finds out the real you. One day, a man applied for a job at the Lincoln Park Zoo. The zookeeper told him, “Our gorilla just died, and we’re looking for a replacement. We want to bring kids back, so could you put on a gorilla suit and go in the gorilla cage? The job is worth $10 an hour.”

The position wasn’t exactly what the job hunter was looking for, but he accepted it. Later that day, kids flocked to the gorilla cage to see the new gorilla — and boy, could he put on a show. He did flips on the monkey bars, walked on his hands, and swung from branch to branch like an acrobat. But one day he swung too far and landed in the lion’s den. The hungry lion licked his lips and approached the helpless man in the gorilla suit. As the man yelled for help, the lion opened his mouth and whispered, “Be quiet, or you’ll get us both fired!”

Like a man in a gorilla suit, the message of grace plus works lacks the power of the real thing. A person can only pretend to be working his way to Heaven for so long before he has a big failure and realizes he can’t do it. The message of grace alone for salvation has real power. It gives the most helpless person hope based upon the finished work of Christ on the cross. Knowing Jesus paid it all takes a great weight from our shoulders.

Maybe you have accepted Christ as your Savior, but you have been living as if your salvation depends on your performance. You feel pressured because you are trying to measure up to the impossible standard you have created for yourself. What’s the point of pretending? You need grace more than anything else in the world. Trust God to help you make it through each day, with all of your faults and shortcomings. The real deal will help you become the person God wants you to be.

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder