It is so easy for me to turn my faith into a checklist or a series of tasks. Did I go to church? Check. Did I serve in some capacity? Check. Did I pray for someone other than myself? Check. All of those things are great, and I hope that they are always byproducts of my faith. But I was recently hit hard by these words from Romans:
“Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness…” -Romans 4:4-5
If you are like me, one of your next thoughts will be: why? Shouldn’t I have to work hard to earn something as significant as salvation? This is my favorite part:
“That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace…” -Romans 4:16
It seems I am in a constant cycle of forgetting and then relearning God’s radical grace for us. He wants to give us salvation as a free gift so that we aren’t merely slaves to a master, striving to earn love and acceptance.
Think about it- if you gave a really precious and thoughtful gift to someone you love, and they received it with joy but then the next day showed up at your door asking how they could work for you in order to pay off the cost of the gift, wouldn’t you be a little insulted? The crazy thing about what God has given us is that we could never work hard enough to earn it, which is why we needed Jesus to obtain it for us. So us standing at God’s proverbial doorstep every morning, asking for another checklist to complete, is utterly worthless and entirely misses the point of receiving His gift by grace.
Maybe one day I will crumple up all my checklists for good and learn to live continually in the freedom of God’s grace. Until then, I will keep relearning it over and over again, day by day.
“I do not understand the mystery of grace- only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.” -Anne Lamott