What Will It Take To Make God Happy?

What Will It Take To Make God Happy? -christyfitzwater.com

My last teaching job was in 1994. When I re-entered the teaching field a few years ago, I noticed teachers were talking about a new-fangled tool called a rubric.

What in the world was a rubric?

So I used “the Google” (something else that didn’t exist in 1994) and learned a rubric is a chart that describes expectations for an assignment, with columns one through five, to show levels of quality from excellent to poor.

One is poor.

Three is average.

Five is excellent.

This seemed like a great tool for grading an English paper. But then I went to our school in-service this year and the faculty was handed a detailed rubric that will be used to measure our performance as teachers.


This teacher rubric assesses everything from classroom management to our relationships with students to quality of lesson plans to personal appearance. Will I ever get a five in all of those? I have the desire to try, but wow. Having a detailed standard like that put in front of you can make your blood pressure go up.

The administration was full of grace, I have to say. The number three is going to count as “professional grade,” and we’ll only hope to work toward number five as a standard of excellence. But that news immediately made me anxious.

If there’s a five, I’m never going to be satisfied with a three.

Rubrics come to mind as I have my Bible open this morning, and I ask a simple question: Does God have a rubric for men? Is he observing me, with pen in hand –marking down numbers and making notes in columns?

That is the stuff of which hypertension is made.

So I go to the Bible and land on Romans 3:23-24 (NIV) to answer my question:

For all have sinned

and fall short of the glory of God,

and all are justified freely by his grace,

through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

Yes, there is a heavenly rubric. God’s glory is the “5”, and anything less than that is the falling short. We all live in the world of 1’s and 2’s and 3’s and 4’s –some days looking pretty good but most days landing in the “needs work” category. A three could be a “professional grade” Christian, I suppose, and maybe we could hit that more days than not.

But who’s going to be happy with a three?

Paul delivers an anti-hypertensive, to those who have put their faith in Jesus. He tells us we have been “justified,” which means God brings his pen and rubric to observe our lives, and all he sees is Jesus. Pen meets paper, and he makes a judgment about our performance.

“Fives across the board,” he declares.

The reasoning is like this:

Jesus scores a five in every single category.

We who believe are hidden away in Jesus.

His fives become our fives.

I can feel my shoulders relaxing as I think this through. I like fives.

Have you been trying to make God happy, by exerting yourself to achieve a high score on his rubric? Stop trying. On your best day, you’ll never make it past a four. Put your life in the hands of Jesus, and you’re golden.


  1. Love this reminder!! And I love how you tell stories. ? I’m so thankful for His 5.

  2. excellent. Hope your blood pressure went down after that revelation from the Lord.

    1. It did, thank you. Thinking well, by leaning on God’s word, changes everything.

  3. Thank you for this reminder. My husband and I lived in central Texas for the last 27 years, pioneering a church in Waco for 4 of those. In August, we moved to Mobile, Alabama where God has called my husband to pioneer another church. It was a long summer of lots of transitions (in July, our oldest was stationed in Maryland, our daughter got married, and our youngest, at 22, stayed in Killeen when we moved here) and I have been fighting a spiritual battle. I find myself questioning what I can do better, wondering if I am displeasing God, trying to figure out where I’ve gone wrong. I needed the reminder that I strive to do my best because I love Him, NOT so that He will me. He is my hiding place and Jesus is my righteousness. Once again, your insight has come at just the right moment. I appreciate your faithfulness in sharing!

    1. Oh wow -your whole world turned upside down. I highly recommend that you read Sara Hagerty’s new book, Unseen. Her words would be so encouraging for where you are right now. I’m glad the Lord has put us together, because you encourage me often, too. Hugs to you.

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