You don’t have to earn God’s love. In fact, you can’t.
I am a perfectionist, and I’ll admit that it took me an embarrassingly long time to fully embrace this aspect of my faith. I have an intense work ethic when I want to do something, and a competitive drive to be the best.
Nothing is free, right?
You have to earn good grades.
You have to earn your wages.
You have to earn the respect of your boss.
You have to earn the promotion.
You have to earn the trust of your friends.
But your relationship with God is completely different.
You cannot be good enough.
You cannot be nice enough.
You cannot be generous enough.
This is one of the details that separates Christianity from many of the other major world religions, and it’s absolutely integral to our faith. God offers his love – and salvation through Jesus Christ – as a free, unmerited gift to all people.
- We are not saved by works. We are saved by grace.
“For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift – not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8
This is great news for believers because none of us could meet God’s level of expectation to earn our salvation. Romans 2:23 says, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Jesus is the only perfect person who has ever lived.
The use of the word “boast” in the verse above is perhaps subtle, but not accidental. We too often, in our flesh, take credit for good works. This draws attention and gives glory to us as individuals, minimizing the goodness and glory of God. We cannot earn our way into Heaven, but He knows this and saves us from ourselves.
- We are not saved BY works. We are saved FOR works.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.” Ephesians 4:1
Salvation should stir something in us that matures over times so that good works become our consistent, characteristic behavior. These acts of service should not be performed out of vain conceit or with hopes of personal gain (and, again, our salvation does not hinge on good works being performed at all), but they are an opportunity for us to express our gratitude to God, to exemplify His grace, and to spread His kingdom here on earth.
- God pursues us.
“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
“But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
We so often talk about people “finding God” – but God has been there all along. We are all (believers and unbelievers) his beloved creation, and he passionately pursues our hearts before our first breath to our last. He chases us without tiring, trying to turn our face to the hope found in His salvation. For those who are slow or unwilling to accept Him, His pursuit continues in a lifelong marathon. For those who come to faith through Christ Jesus, He welcomes us into a deep, abiding friendship – a love story, in fact.
He does not lose hope when we are ornery, selfish, stubborn or faithless. He rejoices in us and refines us when we live faithfully and serve joyfully.
I would like to think that I’m good enough to be on the team. But I’m not. We are not worthy of such attention and affirmation from the King of the world, but He grants us his affection anyway.
Friends, we don’t deserve the grace lavished upon us, and thankfully, that’s all by God’s design. I sing the age-old hymn to my babies at night, “Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me,” and again I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God.
May our lives be a response of humble worship, always pointing the watching world to Jesus.
Grace and peace,
Sara is a West Texas girl, currently living outside of Dallas. She adores her husband of 14+ years and delights in the daily chaos of raising and discipling their 3 young girls. She is also a physician, specializing in MRI imaging.
Sara is an encouraging friend, intentional at developing authentic relationships. She has a heart for supporting women and families, and she is passionate about Bible translation.
Week 2: Challenge This week in your journals, record one way God is good to you each day.
Week 2 Reading Plan
Week 2 Memory Verse
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