rebelling against low expectations

The Happy Confession of Having No Merit


It was certainly no accident that we stumbled across this blog post from John Piper the morning our show aired on Focus on the Family. What a wonderful reminder that every good thing is a gift from God — and we can’t take any credit. Piper writes:

I was born into a believing family through no merit of my own at all. I was given a mind to think and a heart to feel through no merit of my own at all. I was brought into the hearing of the gospel through no merit of my own at all. My rebellion was subdued, my hardness removed, my blindness overcome, and my deadness awakened through no merit of my own at all.

Thus I became a believer in Christ through no merit of my own at all. And so I am an heir of God with Christ through no merit of my own at all. Now when I put forward effort to please the Lord who bought me, this is to me no merit at all, because

    …it is not I, but the grace of God that is with me. (1 Cor. 15:10)

    …God is working in me that which is pleasing in his sight. (Heb. 13:21)

    …he fulfills every resolve for good by his power. (2 Thess. 1:11)

And therefore there is no ground for boasting in myself, but only in God’s mighty grace. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Cor. 1:31)

Soli Deo Gloria (To God Alone be the Glory)

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • So True. There are probably a lot of Armenian Rebelutionaries, but we’re not going to agree on everything I guess.

  • Indeed, for those of us who are doing “big hard things”, even if they are good and godly things, pride can become the big temptation, and humility becomes harder. Thanks for sharing this guys! : D

  • That is exactly how I feel.
    But as a Child, I almost felt forced to be a Christian, which probably led to my rebelling against God, and the time I actually felt insulted to be called a Christian.

    But it was because I was born into a Christian family, that I am now strong by God, I love Him more then my own life, wanting to serve Him more then a man in the desert wants water.
    To be a child of His is a blessing and something I feel I don’t deserve!
    It’s amazing to know the love He has for us, yet know, we don’t deserve it.

    To crave Him is powerful and overwhelming, yet I wouldn’t want that craving to stop, for without it, I may loose Him again.

    Without Him, I am nothing but an empty shell, He fills me with His love, and completes my life.
    He is with me through hard times and easy, He never lets go of the rope that keeps me from falling into the sins of the world.

    Awsome post!


  • An excellent reminder that “I cannot boast in anything; no gifts, no power no wisdom.”
    It is indeed joyous to realize that we are all reliant on God!
    God bless, Gentlemen!

  • Thanks so much for posting this blog post, Alex and Brett. I read it yesterday on DesiringGod and it blessed me so much.

    I don’t think I can add anything to what has already been said in the above comments. I indeed can’t do anything by my own merit and strength; the praise and credit all belongs to our awesome God!

    Keep up the wonderful work.

    God bless!

  • Amen! Like Joshua said, when doing ‘big hard things’ pride can become a pitfall. The Devil would like nothing better than to make us ineffective rebelutionaries! May we always remember that we are living with the salvation of Jesus Christ by no merit of our own. Soli Deo Gloria!

    (By the way, you did do a great job 😉 )

  • I heard that John Piper is a communist. My mother doesn’t let me listen to him. I doubt she’ll let me read this website anymore now, either. If you don’t believe me, read copies of the original transcript — he uses ‘comrade’ at least 8 times. And the reason you can only find copies is because the original was burned. I bet this comment will be deleted, too — so I am saving copies . . .

  • Amen! Through no merit of my own… I am heavenbound!
    Thank God, we love Him because He first loved us!
    btw, this comment coming from Guam, USA

  • ps. Anonymous–…. ummm didn’t notice your comment til just now. That is kinda weird and paranoid. Chill.

  • Anonymous: are you the same joker who left the comment several weeks back that the painting of David was immodest? (The similarities are obvious: your commendable respect for your mother, your quitting this website, etc.). Even if you are serious, your comment makes for a great laugh.

  • Thank you Alex and Brett for helping us direct the focus from ourselves to the one who deserves the real glory. Very humbling and something all rebelutionaries, and Christians for that matter should keep in mind.

  • Thanks for the post!!

    So true and profound. Everything I own now and even who I am today is gift from God.
    But, my flesh creeps in all the time, saying “You did it!! You earned it!!” and I forget about Grace.
    It is always amazing how God protect us from evil and provide us with so many good things.
    Let’s fix our eyes on God! and Serve Him!

    in Christ

  • Thankyou so much for the wholesome reminder,

    So often I loose sight of this when people coo over me, telling me I’m talented, or a really good kid. Thanks for helping me remember.


  • That is an awesome post and so true as well! I think everyone often forgets this at some time. “We love Him for He first loved us” and “I am not my own, for I was bought w/ a price” are great verses to remember. Thanks guys so much for sharing! It’s an awesome reminder!

    Your sister in Christ,

  • Anonymous: fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. 🙂 That was pretty funny, though the idea of John Piper being a communist is a little far-fetched. Is writing these comments all you do?

    Anyway, great post! I have been thinking about this very subject pretty recently, it’s very true.


  • Indeed, I am what I am only because of who He is.





    My Sweet Jesus…

    I love you Lord!

  • Praise God! He is so Awesome and Amazing! People ask me how I do it… I tell them it’s all God’s grace and strength. I could do nothing on my own! He has blessed me with a supportive and loving family, training in His Word and ways, and new life each day. Jesus is worthy of all of our praise and adoration!

  • Praise God from whom ALL blessings flow,
    Praise Him all creatures here below,
    Praise Him ABOVE ye heavenly host,
    Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen (emphasis mine)

  • That is excellent!
    Sometimes, I get caught up with compliments, because I am always watching my little brothers…Even I sometimes forget Who helps me survive it!
    Without God, I wouldn’t be here…I wouldn’t be anything.
    Wonderful post! Loved it!

  • It’s so wonderful and humbling to be reminded of the unmerited favor that God bestowed to me at salvation and continues to impart to me everyday. Thanks for sharing.

  • Amen. If only I could always remember this, always be thankful for it, and always be humble.

    Anonymous: Come on. Whether what you said is true or not doesn’t matter–it’s not relevant. Piper’s blog post wasn’t about politics, it was about giving God the glory. I agree with Kayli: CHILL.

  • It is pretty amazing how God times everything. Just this morning I was thinking similar things as I read from CJ Mahaney’s book “Humility.” It isn’t about what we have done, but what God has done for us. Because I believe that, I don’t have to try to be, or even dream about being, any one special, but live the life of service set before me. And if God does bring me recognition, I pray that I will have the same humility to say that it is not about me, but about what God has done through Christ Jesus.

    To the King!

  • I think you could be a little kinder to Anonymous everyone. Whether you agree with him or not you should still show him respect and kindness. 😉

    Anonymous, may I ask, where did you hear that John Piper is a communist? 🙂

    Great post Brett and Alex! BTW, you did great last night and today. I can’t wait to hear the rest tomorrow!

    Sarah 🙂

  • Sarah: I’m pretty sure Anonymous is the same jokester from the post about David. Remember? But if he isn’t, well, then I wouldn’t of said what I did. But yes, I couldn’t agree with you more, I’m a huge supporter of agreeing and disagreeing with people with respect!

  • Sarah: I second what Camille said about respect. Didn’t mean to be hard… but it’s a bummer Anonymous is so confused.

  • I agree with you as well Sarah. I believe that everyone’s opinions should be respected, whether they are right or wrong, especially as a Christian.

    Thanks for posting Alex and Brett!!

  • Sorry if my comment came across wrong, again, I would not have said what I said (obviously) if he wasn’t the jokester person. Sorry about any confusion that might have caused. Once again, I completely agree with the respect thing. Personally I think we should just ignore his prank comment and focus on the great post. 🙂 So…yeah

    Camille E.

  • Okay, I’m glad you all agree with respecting someone else’s view. 🙂 But your ways of phrasing it seemed very rude and harsh to me. Such as calling him a jokester, telling him to chill out, saying his posts make for a great laugh, asking him if all he does is post comments like this, etc.

    If Anonymous is serious (which he very well may be) then we should be trying to gently explain why we don’t agree with him instead of laughing at him or calling him a jokester. His comment may not be a prank. He could be serious and worried and if so, do you think that we are helping or reassuring him by calling his comment nothing but a prank? It may be one, but it may not be.

    Also, we don’t know if he is the same person that wrote the comment about David or not. I myself have sometimes posted on here with the name Anonymous and I know many other people who have done the same. So you really can’t accuse him of posting both comments. 🙂

    Now I don’t want to appear harsh either 😉 and I understand that you were not meaning to be, but I think we should all strive to say things gently and kindly to others we disagree with and not make fun of them.

    Got to go listen to the last part of Focus on the Family. Alex and Brett are on in ten minutes! 🙂

  • If you check the source of Paul’s quote (Jer. 9;24) it is surprising to see what God really wants from us: To: “understand and know me!” There is so much “bad gossip” about him that He must yearn for the few people who actually understand why He has to do some things hard to understand, like in the O.T. To know that He delights in His “holy attributes” deepens for us the level of His goodness and love.

    Claude G.

  • Hey guys i have just started reading your book DO HARD THINGS.I totaly agree with what you guys are saying and i am incouraging my friends to do hard things. I also agree with the blog……it is by Gods grace that i am Saved………….i dont realy think we will truly know the fullness of his love and grace for us, its just to much for our little brains to comprehend.God amazes us in his plan for our lifes………….wow.

    thank you for what you guys do

    in christ Zack

  • Hey guys i have a new thought …lets all focus on what God is trying to say to us threw this blog and not what anonymous said………….altough we have our own opinion …we all are united in lets focus on Gods unfailing grace………..

    peace out guys


  • Exactly…thank you, Alex and Brett! (Let’s see…it’s 08/19/09…I’m listening to you on Focus on the Family right now!)

    We are nothing. If we as a church could get this into our heads, the world would see a difference. “There but for the grace of God go I.” We can claim no merit.

    (I basically just said everything you guys did…I’ll be quiet now.)


  • Awesome post. We should never take for granted that we are saved. We were so lost we didn’t even know we needed a savior. Thank the Lord for such mercy.

    In Christ


  • This is one of the most striking things I have read in a while, because it says exactly what I have been feeling lately. The longer I live, the more I see how small, insignificant, and retched I am. Why should God chose me to live His life? I have done nothing worthy of it. Everything good that I do or am is because He enables me to do it, and allows me be it – by His grace. There is a quote – I’m not sure where it comes from, but I really like to use it as a reminder: “God will not send you where Grace cannot keep you. It is a great thing to be reminded that we are nothing and and we rely on God for every moment of His life. Without His grace, we are living our own life and not His. Very humbling. And if you can remember keep that outlook (no mean feat), it is amazing how you can interact with other people and see Christ in them! Thanks for the post!

  • I’ve been focusing on this verse today ” For me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” Philipians 1:21
    It reminds me that I am only complete when I am broken, and surrendered to Christ. He is the only one who is full, and complete. Jesus Christ is the only one who is life, and through him we have life to the fullest. What did I do to deserve this good gift to live, breath, sing, dance, praise Him, blink, whisper, shout, experience Joy, peace, life, true love. I have done nothing good to recieve any of this. For all I have is a heart that doesn’t even like the one who gave me all this goodness, except when Christ came in me & started to remodel my weakness, and cover me suffiecently with his grace, and value. I am worthy of nothing Good, and to know that the God of the universe by Grace through faith alone, period, I have been redeemed, washed white as snow. it’s literally life changing. ANd what have I done that deserves any reward for this love? I was empty.
    He’s no comparison to a pop machine, he surpasses everything without limit, but for an illustration I guess you can say that if humans were like soda cups, God is like the op machine that always provides free refills. You just have to be thirsty, and willing to get filled up. Who doesn’t love free love refills?

  • Romans 2:4 – Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not know that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

    I read this the other night – while I still couldn’t think of something to say to this very excellent post – and that last line is so beautiful. … not knowing that THE GOODNESS OF GOD LEADETH THEE TO REPENTANCE …

    We don’t even repent without His intervention. It is amazing to realize just how dependent we are upon God’s Grace. Totally. Completely.

    In Christ

    Jordan Elizabeth

  • i have been thinking about the blog the last day …… how blessed we are!!!!!!!!!!
    God is so amazing he has already worked in my life today hahah wow

    thnx guys


  • This is a great reminder, especially for those of us starting school again. It helped to remind me that in all that i do, including school work, that i can not do it on my own or by my own merit.

  • Amen. Our God is so loving, it’s insane. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Rom. 5:6-8)

  • What a wonderful reminder! How could we ever hope to do anything on our own strength? How great is our God, and to Him be the glory forever and ever!

  • Come now let us reason together, says the LORD. Though your sins like scarlet, they shall be white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18

    Jesus is our only way to freedom & truth, and look at what we are promised through him. Isn’t this amazing.

  • amen. no credit to us. we can never repay God for everything He has done and will be doing. no glory to us. let the God of eternity and grace be praised! 🙂

  • Indeed, that is a great reminder against thinking it is somehow through something we have done that we are saved. It is purely the grace of God

  • wow. what an awesome reminder that we should do nothing of our own accord…but that we should everything through and for our amazing God.

    God’s love is so crazy, He still loves us and is willing to forgive us when we keep trying to do things for ourselves, even when we know its God who should be getting all the glory.

    Amen! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thanks for the encouragement. We’ve got it really good. God desn’t require anything of us for Him to love us. That just absolutely rocks.

  • Thank you so much for this post!!! I constantly struggle with pride, and this post is both very encouraging and very motivating, urging me to continue to fight against my pride. I especially liked the Soli Deo Gloria quote at the end. I am a musician, and this summer I attended MasterWorks Festival, a Christian music camp in Indiana. This camp revitalized my faith in the Lord, and Soli Deo Gloria was the camp’s moto. Seeing the quote reminded me that my talent in music was given to me by God “through no merit of my own at all”, and therefore that my music is God’s and must be used to glorify him. Thank you and God bless you!! I am praying for you.

  • Great reminder!! I loved the way he put that. I have been thinking on this subject quite a bit lately. I love it when God continually puts things in my path that confirm what He’s been speaking to me. : )

  • I love the post it is a great reminder that we can not do anything on our own. I know John Piper and I’ve read some of his books.

  • Humbled. Humbled Again. Humbled Forever. This is something that I’ve been praying… be humbled by my Jesus and to truly and confidently say with all my heart that I am crucified with Christ and I no longer live but He lives in me….Please do pray for strength and courage, I’m in the point of doing many hard things right now…

  • Wow thats so true i sturggle with that somtimes. By the way great job on the confrence in AL. that was my first one and i looooooovved it. =D

  • Wow great blog. Sometimes I forget that he is in complete control in everything in my life and to glorify Him. It’s SO amazing how much He loves us! And I have been quited by his love! I love His Love! (Zeph 317) He loves us so Much

    your sister in Christ, Rachel

  • So right on. So much is out of our control, and yet we like to take credit in who we have become. To God be ALL the glory.

  • Yo Anonymous… if your’re still reading this… I’m sorry if ‘chill’ n’stuff hurt your feelings. I guess I can be pretty ghetto…. but don’t worry about anyone deleting your comments ok? Unless there is something wrong in them (like cussing) no one is going to delete it simply because they disagree with it. Do a little more research on Piper yourself and see if you can find anything good…. I know I appreciated what he wrote in this post.

  • It is so easy to think that we are capable of doing good and being good people.
    We need to be constantly reminded that it isn’t us doing good, but Christ through us. It is very humbling and a good reminder.

    Thnx for the post!

  • For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever.Amen. – Romans 11:36

  • I think one of the hardest things for me is giving God ALL the glory ALL the time!! It’s not an easy thing to do and often time’s I don’t want to do it, I want the credit and that is where my sin nature comes in I want I want and we don’t take the time to say God what do you want because I willing to give everything I have to you..

rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →