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Deeds vs. Grace

There seems to be a lot of talk, especially lately with the upcoming holiday season, concerning acts of kindness in what appears to be deeds done in order to please the Lord. Even our children’s books on the season talk about acts and giving because it will “please God”. Of course, we want God to be pleased, but we must be careful of our motivations behind trying to please our Lord.

Trying to Earn Favor with God

None of us should feel like we need to earn favor with God. Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Our own attempts to earn favor are pointless, because He loved us even when we were still sinners. If he loved us enough, as sinners, to send His son to die for our sins, then there is certainly nothing that could possibly make him love us more, because His love is already limitless and unconditional.

Deeds Will Not Earn a Spot in Heaven.

There is no way that “doing good” will get us into heaven. If it could, then Jesus would not have had to die on the cross for our sins. Furthermore, by relying on our good works, we are negating the need for God’s grace, as well as the power of his Holy Spirit. When we put too much focus on deeds alone, we are losing sight of God, and making it all about ourselves. If we could save ourselves, there would have been no need for a Savior. It is by faith alone that we are saved. Ephesians 2:8-9 – “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.”

Good Works Do Not Change Our Nature

Quite frankly, an atheist can be the most giving human being alive, but that will not earn him a spot in heaven. Romans 3:23 – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” As my husband says, “it’s a heart condition.” We are all sinners, and we need to be changed into new beings from the inside out. This change can only come through salvation in Christ Jesus. Our sinful nature will then fall away. 2 Corinthians 5:17“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, that person is a new creation. The old has gone, the new is here!”

Do I think that we should give abundantly and with a cheerful heart? Absolutely. But our motivation for doing so should be to show God’s love to others, so that they might come to know the Lord themselves. If God’s love is shining through us, we will have a genuine, Christ-like concern and motivation for all things we do. It should never be about us. After all, the best gift we can ever give, the best deed we can ever perform, the greatest love we can ever show, is in leading others to Christ.

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