A few weeks back I went out raking leaves in the community with some guys I know from other local churches. It was really funny to see people try to find an adequate way to pay us for what we were doing, because we weren’t asking for a donation, or even to talk to them about church. We simply came to rake their yard because we love God.
As I listened to them offer us one thing after another, I realized that I was watching someone verbalize what so many of us struggle with. It’s very hard to accept the fact that when Jesus died for us, it was unconditional. It wasn’t based on anything we did. It was based on the fact that God loved us so much. So this brings up two interesting facts.
- We cannot earn our salvation because it’s already done.
- Beacause we can’t earn it, we’ll never deserve it.
I’m not sure what the dictionary definition of that word is, but I’ve always interpreted it to mean "to make progress towards, to pay off". There are many things in this life that we must earn. We must earn our grades, we must earn our pay at our jobs. But salvation is not something we can’t earn. We can’t make payments towards it. If we could that would mean that Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough. To put it bluntly, God did not send his Son to die for me so that he could hold it over my head for the rest of my life while I pay him back for it. It was his choice, based on His love for me. Nothing I can do can make that sacrifice justified.
When someone says "you deserve it", they usually mean that you have paid an adequate price for something, it’s rightful that you should have it. You deserved a promotion because you earned it. Being deserving of something implies a state of arrival. When I have arrived at the state of deserving something, it’s because of the long process of earning it. After I work a full month earning my wages, I deserve my paycheck.
But since salvation cannot be earned, it means that we’ll never deserve it. We will never arrive at a state where salvation is rightfully ours. It will forever be the perfect gift that we must accept without the ability to pay off, earn, deserve, or otherwise validate. And that’s extremely difficult to accept. Because everything else in my life I feel that I have to earn so that I’ll deserve what I have.
Salvation and beyond…
It’s funny how your perspective on everything changes when you begin to deal with your own discomfort knowing that you’re the recipient of the greatest symbol of love mankind has ever received, and it has nothing to do with your good works. All of a sudden, you begin to realize that the reason you’ve been judging people is because you’ve always felt that you have what you have because you earned it. And therefore you deserve it.
What an amazing life this can be when you can look at all your blessings, and instead of patting yourself on the back for how hard you worked to get it all, you can simply look the Father in the eyes and say "Thank You". You have what you have because he blessed you with it. Not because you worked hard, and not because you deserve it.