For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
This is easily one of my most favourite passages of Scripture. It is my creed, my life motto, my defining theme. I’m saved by grace through faith in Jesus. Full stop. That’s who I am. I need no one or no thing else. Jesus is my all in all.
I say that this morning, but before mid-day arrives, I will be living as if I am saved by works, diligently scurrying hither and yon, like a disorientated mouse, seeking to gather up seeds of accomplishment for myself to affirm my identity and feed my sense of self-worth. What a waste of life and energy! Worse yet, that life and energy is spent on feeding a false hope. We can never be saved by our works. Our works can never be good enough to overcome the damage caused by sin.
That would require a perfect sacrifice and that price has already been paid in full. The first phrase of this passage is in the past perfect tense. I have already been saved by grace through faith. Therefore, my works are not a contribution in any way to my salvation. My works flow out of my salvation and they are for my neighbours. I don’t need my good works. Jesus has done it all already. God doesn’t need my good works. He owns everything already. But my neighbour does need my good works and my loving sacrificial service. My neighbour needs to know God’s love.
The receptacle that receives grace is rest. We rest in the grace, love and forgiveness of Jesus. All we do is receive. And then we let Jesus live His life in and through us. Whatever happens is whatever happens. We rest in Jesus’ love and leave the results totally up to Him.
The hardest part of grace for me is to believe that I can actually trust it, that I can take my hands off of the steering wheel of my life and the results will not only be good, they will be far, far better than I could have ever dreamed. This is where I get stuck.
But God even has grace for me when I get stuck. When I finally give up and turn to Him, He doesn’t shame me or condemn me. He simply says, “Ok, let’s go!” and He leads me forward in the perfect plan that He has prepared for me.
Living in grace is far, far easier than trying to do life on our own, and the results which God brings in and through our lives are far better than anything we could accomplish.
Dear Jesus, thank You for paying the full cost of saving me. Help me to overcome my internal resistance and live in the freedom and the grace You freely give to me. Help me to rest in Your love. Amen.