You Don't Have to Work for it
When people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners. (Romans 4:4-5, NLT)
As a young Christian, I remember thinking that the reason God was blessing me was because of my disciplined Bible study. I would get up well before school every morning and study the Scripture for about an hour. Then I would pray for an hour or more (I know because I kept checking my watch). I could say to my friends, “While I was studying the Bible for an hour and praying for over an hour today, the Lord showed me. . . .” It gave me bragging rights. I thought that when I got to school, God would use me because I had done so much for Him. Look at how faithful I was! Look at how diligent I was! I was so proud.
Then one morning my alarm didn’t go off, and I woke up very late. I didn’t have time to pray or read my Bible . . . and it turned out to be one of the most blessed days of my life. God even allowed me the privilege of leading someone to Christ that day. I thought, What does this mean? Don’t read the Bible or pray? I think what God was trying to say to me was, “Greg, don’t do those things to seek My approval. Rather, do those things because you have My approval.” It is not because of what we have done that we have God’s approval; it is because of what God has done for us. We put our faith in Him, and then God puts His righteousness into our account. He loves us when we do well, but He also loves us when we stumble.