It seems like every time I dare to suggest that following Christ involves things like feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, preaching the Gospel, or giving away everything for the sake of Christ, someone is gracious enough to remind me that we’re not saved by these works, we’re saved by grace.
Thank you. I appreciate the reminder. Sometimes I forget.
(Warning: Rant Alert – Be prepared for mild to moderate lambasting in the remainder of the article)
Deep breath . . . NO DUH!!!
Listen, I gave to charity one time before I knew Christ. I dropped $5.00 in a Red Cross umbrella at a Target after Hurricane Katrina, and on the drive home afterwards, I stopped at a Taco Bell and was ticked that I didn’t have enough cash to get dessert because of my moment of weak generosity. I didn’t help my friends, I didn’t love my family, I most certainly never associated with someone beneath my social circle, and I collected stuff to the point that there literally wasn’t room to walk in some of the rooms of my house.
When I was saved by God’s grace, I sold everything, gave it all away, and now live solely for the sake of Christ and loving others.
Works didn’t save me. God’s grace saved me, but He saved me into a life of working for Him.
I’ll tell you what: you “show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder. But are you willing to recognize, you foolish fellow, that faith without works is useless?” (James 2:18-20)
If you’re quick to throw out that verse about being saved by grace and not works anytime the topic comes up because you don’t want to give up anything for Christ, you’re a lazy servant at best. Do you know what happens to lazy servants?
Jesus says this to them:
You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.
For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matthew 25:26-30)
You can’t work you’re way to heaven, but you can't sit around on your grace all day and hope to get there either. This is not an either/or thing. If you don’t have works, you don’t have any evidence of God's grace. You certainly don't love Jesus. Because when you love Him, you're compelled to love others. And love is demonstrated in works. So repent and get right with God.
Yikes! Did I really say it? You betcha! Somebody has to.
For the record, I’m not claiming to be the guy with ten talents. Most likely, I’m the guy with one, but you better believe I’m going to give a proper account and hand in two when the Master returns. Not because I want to boast, but because I love Him so much. If I can give Him three, four, or more, I will. I’ll give Him everything because He’s worthy.
(End of Rant: My apologies to my regular readers. This post stems from frustrating conversations in other arenas, but everyone needs to vent sometimes.)