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The Lie of Working “Hard Enough”

FreedomSince we are beginning our book club discussion this week on the Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom (if you want to know more click here), I thought I would share this idea for a post I have been pondering for a while now.

Earlier this year, I read a wonderful book by Christine Caine titled, Undaunted: Daring to Do What God Calls You to DoIn it, she describes a visit to Auschwitz, one of the most notorious World War II concentration camps in Germany.

In German, the sign over the entrance reads, “Work Sets You Free.”

The implied promise to those poor people was that if they worked hard enough and long enough, they would eventually go free. Most of them never saw freedom again, and any that did were rescued, not liberated because they worked in the most efficient or passionate manner.

I’ve talked about this many times before and I’m still learning: only Christ can set you free. It’s not just our initial conversion experience; whenever I attempt to work myself into freedom, it’s a neverending spiral with no lasting fruit.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. –Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

Christ set you free. Your work now is to accept it, live in it, and never go back to anything inferior. Like the concentration camp, it’s a place of death to go back to attempting to attain righteousness according to rules and regulations.

If you work hard enough, you’ll overcome that addiction. If you stay focused enough, you’ll get past that deep wound. If you stay after it, you’ll get there.

The problem is the line always moves and once you mess up a few times, the desire to prove yourself and work harder becomes more of a snare to you. You’re working for and building up the very thing that is killing you.

Yes, we know faith without works is dead (James 2:18), but you’re never going to work toward faith. Christ sets you free and you work from faith. Everything else becomes meaningless toil and strain, the opposite of what Jesus promised was an easy yoke and a light burden (Matthew 11:30).

Sometimes I wish He had burned it to the ground, but He desires intimacy. Intimacy requires that you look away from other things and choose the object of your affection.

Jesus came in and liberated you from the death camp, but it’s still there because He gives you the choice of living in the freedom He purchased for you with His own blood or returning to an extremely lesser way of life.

What’s your choice today? How do you combat the lie of working “hard enough”?


  1. To be honest, Jason, the bigger lie that I have to combat is thinking I’m not good enough. That’s the underlying lie that fuels the fire of feeling that I have to work harder. How do I fight against this? I have to, have to, have to choose to believe what Scripture tells me. Unworthy of salvation by my own efforts, but deemed eminently worthwhile by Jesus, I trust what HE tells me. I can do nothing to earn my way, or ever do anything to make Him love me more or less. Beloved, set free -- this is the Truth. The *not enough* lie? Merely the insidious voice of the Accuser.

    Jesus did not liberate us only to return to slavery (great imagery mentioning Auschwitz), He liberated us to freely follow Him. Let’s do that…unencumbered by the yoke of human demands we, or the enemy of our souls, tries to put upon us again.

    Sharon recently posted..JESUS KNOWSMy Profile

    • YES! Righteousness fueled by understanding who we are and who He’s made us to be in Christ. Beautifully said, Sharon. Thanks so much.

  2. I lived and worked (especially worked) with the lie “if I work harder I’ll get the recognition I deserve.” Work work work. Didn’t work in accomplishing what i wanted it to. Then I realized I was wasting my time. Finally gave up on that idea.
    Bill (cycelguy) recently posted..DeclarationMy Profile

    • You know it’s sad, but some never give up on the idea. They think if they can work that little bit harder--just a little bit more--it’s all going to come together. What a hope and freedom that He brought it all together and His blood has won. Thank you, Bill.

  3. I always believed I had to work hard so people would love me. It’s a long story and one that isn’t pretty. Freedom in Jesus is sooooo much better. Yet, I wonder how often I return to the work camp of my own making. Great thoughts Jason.
    Deb Wolf recently posted..When You Need to Give UpMy Profile

    • I’m still learning, Deb. I seem to go back too frequently, but God lovingly calls me back and opens my eyes. I grew up thinking the only thing people would love is perfection (still fight it to a lesser degree), but perfection of my making is hiding at best. Yes, freedom in Jesus is better! Thank you--great thoughts.

  4. I lived with that lie for many years, Jason. Now I know that it is only in Jesus that I am completely set free and need not become entangled in that horrible snare of thinking works are enough. I’ve started reading The Hiding Place and am loving it! I may just join in with a post or two down the road. Blessings!
    Martha Orlando recently posted..For It Is Not Me SpeakingMy Profile

    • It’s such a beautiful truth, isn’t it? 🙂 Thanks Martha. And I would love if you joined us for any of the discussions! Looking forward to it.

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