One of the questions I asked all of us to answer for ourselves yesterday is this: What is our response to that grace? The grace that saves us? The grace we don’t deserve? The grace that was lavished on us when we deserved to be lavished with judgment?
What’s so confusing to me is that many respond with the wrong motive. We were saved by grace. We were saved because there was absolutely nothing that we could do, nothing we could offer, nothing that we could give God which would fully release us from our debt. The debt that was caused by our sin when we willingly chose to follow the ways of this world and to live in disobedience, rather than to trust that God knows best. It was a free gift that He chose to give to us. Not because we were good or we were worthy of saving, but because He chose to love us, and He made that decision before He even created the world.
And yet, once we see that it’s a free gift, and there’s nothing we can do to earn it, some of us respond the wrong way, with the wrong motive, and the wrong idea of what He wants. We can’t earn salvation, but yet, now that we are saved, let us begin to pay God back. “Let’s do things for Him so that we could show Him that we are good and our actions will prove that we earned this eternal life and paid Him back for all He has given to us.” But that’s not how it works and it shouldn’t be why we act.
When we do what Ephesians 2:10 says, when we do the good works God prepared us and created us for, we do not do it as a form of payment. It didn’t become an installment plan to pay God back. He didn’t ask for the rest of our life of service as a way to say we deserve it. That wasn’t the point.
What does God want from you more than anything? A relationship. He wants you. That’s what all of Ephesians 1 was telling us. He blessed you. He loved you. He chose you, even though you shouldn’t be. He lavished you with grace. He gave us hope. He gave us an inheritance. He gave us wisdom and knowledge. He gave us power. All this was given to us not so we can earn our way to Him, but so we can have a relationship with Him.
What God wants more than anything is your heart. When we come to Jesus, it sometimes speaks of a wedding, that the church, the body of believers is the bride of Christ. Think about a marriage. Once the wedding is done and over with, do the new couple do things out of duty for one another, or out of love. Hopefully, out of love. They do things for one another because they love one another. Yes, they made commitments to do so, but it’s not about the commitment as much as it is that they care deeply about each other.
Likewise, when we make that decision to follow Christ, when we are baptized into His family, our actions should not be out of a sense of duty but love. Christ loved us so fully that He died on the cross for our sins, so that we would have a way back to God, and there is nothing else we can do but love Him back in return. That because He loved us so completely, we, in turn will love Him.
Everything we do should be out of a heart of gratitude and love towards God. We don’t do things because it’s forced on us. We don’t do things so we can earn a free gift. We do it because we love Him for loving us first. And when we truly grasp this, it will change the way we see the Lord. We will want to obey Him, and follow His will, and make new disciples, because it’s how we show love, just like a husband may plan a romantic date night, buy flowers, or spend an evening talking to His wife with no interruptions. He doesn’t have to, but He wants to because He feels the love she gives in return.
So how have you responded to the grace God has given you? My hope and prayer is that you act from a place of love, and not payment or obligation.