Live in Grace
Jerry Bridges, The Discipline of Grace (p. 19):
Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God's grace.
And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God's grace.
And from pp. 22-23:
Pharisee-type believers unconsciously think they have earned God's blessing through their behavior.
Guilt-laden believers are quite sure they have forfeited God's blessing through their lack of discipline or their disobedience.
Both have forgotten the meaning of grace because they have moved away from the gospel and have slipped into a performance relationship with God.
The world tells us that our fundamental identity is determined by our performance not by the performance of another (i.e., Jesus). It seduces us to believing (often unknowingly) that our main sense of significance is found in what we do or in what we're involved in.
It might look like this: "God is pleased with me because I have given my life to caring for the least of these." Now, does God smile at us when we care for orphans? Yes, but if the main way we sense his smile is by our efforts to care for orphans, then chances are we've become stained by the world.
If our primary sense of God's smile upon us comes from our involvement in caring for the least of these, then it's highly likely that to some extent our lives are performance-based rather than grace-based. In other words, it may be that my functional paradigm of Christian living is: "I share God's heart for the orphan; therefore, God is pleased with me," rather than "God is pleased with me because of Jesus; therefore, I am freed to care for the orphan." There is a massive difference between these two ways of thinking. To think the first way is to be stained by the world. To think the second way is to be unstained by the world.