Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
I pastor a church in Orting, WA. Therefore I am obligated to say I have listened to country music. Okay, so I grew up in Buckley – that might have had something to do with it. I remember a song by Brooks and Dunn called “Hard Working Man.” I looked up the lyrics to the chorus and they are:
I value hard work as much as the next guy. We should work hard. But there is one thing that we can’t work for – our salvation. If we could work for it, Paul writes, then grace would no longer be grace. It doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that it is by your hard work that you are saved. No, it is by grace. And yet somehow we continue to think we need to work really hard to earn God’s favor. We think we need to prove to Him that we are worth His love. The truth is we are not and we could never prove that we are. On the other hand, Jesus did it for us. He did the work so we could receive the grace. Hard work cannot give me a piece of the promised land, only the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ can do that.
So why do I work hard at my relationship with him if my work doesn’t matter? Well, my work does matter – it just doesn’t save me. I work hard to know Him because He is worth knowing. I work hard to please Him because He is my Lord. I respond in obedience to Him because He knows what He is doing way more than I do. And I strive to be like Him because the character of Christ in me is what will draw the world to Him. I have this crazy urge to be contagious with the gospel. It’s not so I can earn my way to God. It is so others can experience the joy and freedom and life that He has given me. I want others to share in a insanely awesome eternity with me. And while I am deeply indebted to the grace He has given me (and continues to give me when I am lame), I will not neglect putting effort into the shaping He wants to do in me.