"I have learned by experience that God hath blessed me for thy sake" (Genesis 30:27).
The understanding that God blesses us because of the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ rather than our own is a powerful means by which the Holy Spirit increasingly replaces self-centeredness with devotion to God and others.
Believing that we must earn God's favor is a seemingly noble pursuit, and may in fact proceed from a sincere heart of desiring to glorify Him. The perspective leaves us focused on ourselves, however, leading to either frustration or pride based on how we believe ourselves to be performing. The result is a fixed gaze upon ourselves rather than the Lord Jesus, and thus a limiting of our being changed into His spiritual and moral image (II Corinthians 3:18). We do God and ourselves no favor by this maintaining of the self-focus that is actually the deception of sin rather than the devotion of true godliness.
Realizing that our Heavenly Father's favor is upon His beloved Son who completely deserves it, and upon us as a free gift of grace because we are united to the Lord Jesus, is a heart changing revolution. It is also a behavior changing revolution because "out of the heart are the issues of life" (Proverbs 4:23). This is a vital understanding because while God completely accepts our person in Christ, our subsequent lifestyle and works are a different matter altogether. "We labor... to be accepted of Him" (II Corinthians 5:9). The context of this statement by the Apostle Paul concerns "the things done in his body," that is, the life lived by the believer in thought, attitude, word, and deed (II Corinthians 5:10). Our Lord accepts only those expressions in life that are the products of His Spirit's revelation of the character and nature of Christ. Such expression is the product of "beholding the glory of the Lord," and the recognition that the Lord Jesus is the sole basis for God's blessing is the solid footing upon which we are enabled to walk in a manner pleasing to Him.
The more we grow in the spirit and truth of being "accepted in the Beloved," the more our labors will be "accepted of Him." They will be the fruit of grace no less than our freely given justification and relationship with God because they will flow from growing wonder, fascination, devotion, and love for our blessed Lord. The unholy trinity of "I, me, and my" will be transcended by the glory of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We were born for this, and believers were born again for the worship of God that can only result from realizing that the work of God in the Lord Jesus is our "hope of righteousness" in this moment and forevermore (Galatians 5:5).
"They looked unto Him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed."