Gratitude or Grace?

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and indeed, we have so much to be thankful for. This time of the year is just a little reminder of all the ways that God has blessed us. First and foremost, Christians need to be thankful and grateful for the salvation that we have in Jesus Christ. Without Christ we have nothing – with Christ we have everything! What a glorious thought to think that God saved a wretched sinner like me (and like you). This was totally and completed a gift of God. Salvation was not 99% God and 1% me – salvation is 100% a work of God! We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and Him alone. We have to be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that for the rest of our Christian lives, we need to repay God for His benevolence. I often hear Christians say, “I need to do more work for God.” And while it is obviously not wrong to want to serve God and do his work, we must examine our motives. Am I trying to pay back the debt that I feel is owed to God? If that is the case, then grace ceases to be grace. You are not truly “receiving” God’s free gift of salvation. The reality is that if you try to “earn” your way to heaven, no matter how hard you work, it will never be enough. That is the wonder of salvation – God freely gives to us what we could never give to ourselves. When we repent of our sins and by faith turn to Christ, we are accepted into the family of God.

Please don’t misunderstand me – the true Christian will forever be thankful and grateful for the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in His life. However, the fuel which drives our Christian service is not gratitude, but grace. If it is simply gratitude, our service will only be done in the flesh. We will constantly strive to pay back the debt we owe Christ, always coming up short. But when we serve God through His power, our Christian service will prove fruitful, because it was done in the power of God. How sad it is that so many Christians try to live the Christian life in their own strength. As I said earlier, we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, but saving grace is only the beginning for the Christian. For the rest of our days, we live by faith in what John Piper calls, God’s “future grace.” Day by day we trust God to live through us and supply the grace we need for service in His Kingdom. We could never pay back the debt owed to God so stop trying to and start living in the power of His amazing grace.

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