How would you feel if someone came up to you and said “I want to give you a car, but first you need to help me tear down a barn and build a new one. After that, you can have the car.” Would you think “wow, this person is giving me a car for free!!” or would you think “So you are giving me a car, but I have to work for it.”
If you are like me, you would be the one saying “all this car cost me was some manual labor.” not “someone gave me this car.” Because that wouldn’t be a gift, would it?
Gifts are free, no strings attached, not what you deserve. If you have to do something to get ___, it’s work and the “gift” is your wages or what you deserve.
We need to remember this when reading the bible, thake Ephesians 2:8-9. So often we see this amazing gift God has given us and we believe we need to earn it. So we try really hard to do what God wants us to do, go to church, and at least look like we are living a Godly lifestyle… and then we will surely get the gift, because God owes us, we deserve to go to heaven, look at what we did!
There are a few problems with that though. The first being that this behavior is nowhere in scripture. Nowhere does God say “You do this so I will give you this.” God said “I did this so I can give you this.”
The second problem is, why are you trying to do all these Godly things? Really examine your motives. Is it to go to heaven? To get out of hell? Or is it because you realize the God of the universe desired to have a relationship with me so much that he took it upon himself to bridge the gap between me and Him, and the price of that was Him dieing a literal death in the most excruciating way known to man. And because of that, I realize the insane love He has for me; so no matter what, I want to live my life for Him. Heaven or not…
We think “I obey, therefore I’m accepted” when the reality is “I’m accepted, therefore I obey.”
We tend to confuse religion and the gospel. It was never about what you do. I think Timothy Keller said it best when he said “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.”
Paul said it pretty good in Romans 3:20-26.
The gift isn’t heaven… it’s Himself.