February 22, 2010

I Quit!

That is what we ought to say when we finish reading Romans 4.4-5: “I quit!”. Read the verses and you will see what I mean:

“Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

So you don’t get to quit your job. Sorry! But there is a far deeper sigh of relief to be breathed after reading Romans 4.4-5. As a Christian, there are a lot of things you cannot quit. But the one task you can lay aside forever is the task of trying to work your way into God’s good graces. God does not call on you to work your way to salvation. Nor does He call you, once you have been saved by grace, to work to keep your salvation. And, eternal life secure, He doesn’t even call you to work in order to stay on His good side from day to day. If you want to be right with God, and stay right with God, God simply asks you to stop working and start believing “in Him who justifies the ungodly.”

In fact, if you try to work your way into heaven, or into a better friendship with God … all you can do is drive yourself further away. Because work is exactly what God does not want you to do! Working your way into God’s good graces is the greatest form of pride: ‘I don’t need God to do it for me. I can do just fine myself!’. And God is opposed to that kind of haughtiness, is He not?

So go ahead and say it: ‘I quit! I am not going to rely on myself and my character or my behavior or my morality or my do-betters or my try-harders anymore!’ O, it is important that we do better and try harder. It shows that we are growing in our love for God. But hear this well: Our doing better never, ever, ever causes God to grow in His love for us! I want to say that again to make sure you really get it:

Our doing better in the Christian life is important. It shows that we are growing in our love for God. But our doing better never, ever causes God to grow in His love for us.

How could God love us any more than to give us His Son? To think we could make God love us more than John 3.16 is absurd and, perhaps, blasphemous. So let’s quit trying to do so!

Do you want more logic behind the ‘I quit’? Then ask yourself: Which do I enjoy more? My weekly paycheck (big as it may be) … or an unexpected tax refund? Finding out that you are getting $1000 dollars back (instead of paying $500 in) is quite invigorating, is it not? So here’s the deal: Even if we could earn some sort of points with God by virtue of our works (v.4), there would be very little joy in it. We’d just be getting what was coming to us. But if, by faith in Jesus, we simply receive the free gift of God (v.5) … there is reason for confetti and cake! We’re getting a bonus we didn’t earn. We’re getting a wage we didn’t work for. We’re getting Bill Gates’s salary instead of our own. For, even if we could earn some favor with God … our wage would be miniscule in comparison with what Jesus has earned for us! So working for your heavenly paycheck is like choosing forty hours a week at minimum wage instead of inheriting the Walton family fortune! So do you know what I say to that forty-hours-a-week? I quit!

And here is something even more vital to mull over: Not only is it ludicrous to imagine that we could make God love us more than He already does; not only would it be insane to trade in the Wal Mart fortune for a job at the Snow Cone Shack … it is also rather crazy to toil for the wages that Paul says our works actually do earn. Yes, our works actually do earn a wage – the wage of death! That is what Paul says in chapter 6.23: “The wages of sin is death.” And that is what our works ultimately amount to: sin. For all our righteous deeds are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64.6). And therefore, when we read that “to the one who works” (v.4), “his wage is … credited … as what is due”, we are not reading a good, Midwestern saying about the value of hard work. We are reading a death sentence! Our works are sin. And therefore the "wage" that is “credited … as what is due” is death! So I quit!

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オテモヤン said...
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