For by grace you have been saved through faith, and not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Grace is the free gift of God given to us because we believe in His Son. As Christians, we know that faith in Jesus is the only thing that saves.
But sometimes we get caught up in doing the work of the church. It seems there are an unlimited number of opportunities to serve. Bible studies, potluck dinners, children’s church, choir, clothing giveaways, the list goes on and on. It’s enough to make your head spin! With all of that work, it’s easy to feel that we are earning our salvation. But no matter what we do, we can never earn our salvation and we most definitely cannot outwork what Jesus did for us on the cross!
Even though good works don’t save us, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do them. This verse in Ephesians says that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” and James 2:17 states that “faith without works is dead”. So if we can’t work our way to salvation, what does that mean? Faith and works go together. You can’t have one and not the other. If we have the Holy Spirit within us, then good works should come naturally for us. Faith in Jesus Christ is what gives us salvation, but works are the fruit of our faith.
Because of what Jesus has done for us, we should have a desire in our hearts to do good works. We have an opportunity every day to make a huge impact on someone’s life through our faith and our works. When they see us, they should see the Holy Spirit in us. Our good works should be a light so bright that they can’t help but see Jesus!
James goes on to speak of Abraham’s willingness to follow God’s instruction to sacrifice Isaac. “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22) The footnote in my New King James Study Bible says “Faith produces works; and works makes faith perfect.” Just like Abraham, our faith will be made perfect by our willingness to follow God’s instructions in our lives and through our good works.
Honestly, knowing that I can’t work my way into heaven takes a lot of pressure off. I don’t have to push myself to exhaustion working until I drop or pretend that I’m perfect, knowing that I’m not. I can just be still and know that God is in control, listen for His instructions, and follow His will. And I can rest assured that God has given me the free gift of grace and salvation because I have faith in His Son.
We will never be able to live up to the selfless example that Jesus set for us on the cross. But we can show God’s grace to an unsaved world through our faith in Jesus and our love of doing good works in His name. So when we get caught up in the busy day to day work of the church, let’s remember where our salvation truly comes from and give credit to the Savior of our souls! Let’s thank God that we have been saved by grace.