Are You Trying To Earn What You Can Only Receive?

Are You Trying To Earn What You Can Only Receive?

Most of our lives we’ve been told that nothing in life is free. Everything costs us something. A date to the movies and dinner can set us back $100, easy. An unplanned trip to the ER can cost thousands. A broken relationship can add up with years filled with anxiety and depression. So it’s hard to wrap our minds around something that is actually free. We are always looking for the bottom line or asking, “What’s the catch?” 

Romans 6:23 says, “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” For those of us who have asked Jesus into our lives and accepted His gift of forgiveness from sin, there is no catch. Salvation is a free gift from Jesus. So why do we still struggle to find peace in our lives? 

Often, if we’re struggling to find peace it’s because we’re still trying to pay for our sins. Think that’s not you? See if any of these apply. 

3 Common Ways We Try to Earn Salvation:

1. Working our way into heaven

You’ve met the type. Stressed out Christians who are involved in every ministry and every Bible study. They never say no to ministry opportunities, and fill their schedules with good deeds. The result is a life that feels overworked and under-rewarded. 

Jesus said His burden is easy and His yoke is light (Matthew 11:30). Serving in church is an important part of following Jesus, but what is the motivation behind our volunteering? Do we serve because we love Jesus and we love His Church? Or, do we believe that all the good things we do will cancel out any sin in our lives so God will be happier with us? The idea of earning our salvation totally goes against the reality that salvation can not be earned by our good deeds — it is a gift. 

2. Trying to pay down our debt with a check

There isn’t enough money in the world to pay down the debt our sin has caused. For many people, the first response to a problem that seems overwhelming or messy is to throw money at it. Hurt someone’s feelings and don’t know what to say? Buy flowers. Too busy to invest your time? Give money instead. 

Writing a check is easy, but God doesn’t want our money. He’s after our hearts. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “man looks at the outward appearance, but The Lord looks at the heart.” We can’t buy our way into heaven; it’s only by believing in Jesus that we find salvation. 

3. Beating ourselves up over past sins 

Unlike Agent K in the movie Men in Black, we do not have the luxury of erasing memories of the past. Instead, we are haunted, sometimes daily, of mistakes we’ve made that hurt others and brought pain into our lives. 

Psalm 103 tells us that God is not obsessed with our past. Not only does He forgive our sins when we ask Him, God removes them from us “as far as the east is from the west.” He no longer views us in light of our sin, so it’s time for us to see like He sees and stop being so hard on ourselves. 

If we are ready to stop trying to earn our salvation and start receiving God’s grace, here are three simple steps we can take: 

  • Spend time reading the Bible every day. The more we spend time reading the Bible, the more our hearts and minds begin to understand who Jesus is and what His death and life mean to us. We can learn how to see ourselves as Jesus sees us  — forgiven and loved. 
  • Take a gut check. Anytime we write a tithe check, drop cash in the offering bag or volunteer in a ministry, it’s important to understand why we are doing it. Make sure it’s for the right reasons. 
  • Share your story. Tell your friends and family about how God has changed your life.  Our hearts are filled with gratitude instead of guilt when we stay focused on Jesus and not ourselves. 

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In the enchanting narrative of 'A Christmas Carol,' the character of Scrooge undergoes a remarkable transformation, evolving from a solitary and embittered man into a soul brimming with joy and generosity. Amidst the tale's timeless resonance, one pivotal moment stands out—the encounter between Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Present. This article intricately explores this episode, shedding light on the profound revelation that reshaped Scrooge's perception of Christmas and, consequently, his life. The Essence of Scrooge's Metamorphosis: At the heart of 'A Christmas Carol' lies a poignant reminder of the core tenets of Christmas—joy, hope, and redemption. Scrooge's journey is a beacon, illustrating past, present, and future interconnectedness in our personal narratives. "We celebrate that Christmas day, we remember Christ's first coming, we lift it up and hold it in our hearts each, every day, and lift it up every year, not only as a celebration of what God has done, but what God is doing and what God will do, because the reality of God's kingdom is that it is past, present and future." Scrooge's story urges us to openly reconcile with our past and embrace the present. Like the shepherd seeking the lost sheep, Christmas embodies God's relentless pursuit of the broken, infusing them with profound joy. This theme, woven into the fabric of the Christmas story, reflects God's recognition of what is missing in humanity and His divine mission to redeem us through the gift of His son. Unveiling the Absences: A crucial lesson from Scrooge's transformative odyssey lies in his realization of who is absent from his life. Guided by the Ghost of Christmas Present, Scrooge witnesses the jubilation and love surrounding Christmas celebrations—a joy he has unwittingly denied himself. Family gatherings, laughter, and festive merriment unfold before him, highlighting his conspicuous absence from these scenes. This revelation prompts a soul-searching journey, compelling him to identify and include those missing from his life in the warmth of his newfound celebrations. "Our world today has people who are lost in sin, lost in darkness, lost in pain and suffering, who withhold themselves, keep themselves away from the table, keep themselves away from the joy or have been excluded by others. And too often we go about our daily lives, too often we go about our weekly worship, too often we go about our normal way of being and don't pay any attention to who is missing." Discovering Radiance in the Shadows: Scrooge's tale serves as a poignant reminder that joy and hope can be unearthed even in the darkest corners. His journey into the past is a stark prompt for us to confront and grapple with our own histories. It calls us to be vigilant, identifying those absent from our celebrations and actively seeking ways to share the transformative joy and hope of Christ with them. In Conclusion: The redemptive narrative of Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol' resonates as a potent parable of joy, hope, and redemption. As the festive season envelops us, let us conscientiously contemplate those missing from our celebrations and extend a genuine effort to include them. May our celebrations be a testament to the true essence of Christmas—sharing joy and hope with those around us, encapsulating the season's spirit in its purest form.

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Published: December 06, 2023

Discover how to have the best Christmas ever by focusing on the true meaning of the holiday and choosing peace instead of chaos. Make Jesus the center of your celebration and find true joy in the midst of the busyness.