No, I worked harder than all of them --yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Thoughts for Today:When I was new in my faith, I looked at works as a way to get God to respond to me. I went to church and Bible studies; and I prayed, tithed, and worked in service projects. However, as my faith matured, I came to realize that works are the inevitable response to the goodness and grace God had already given me. When I considered -- I'm going to heaven, my sin has been forgiven, His Holy Spirit lives within me, and He has given His Word to live by -- then what other response could I have? When I think about, and accept all that God has done for me, I can't keep myself from wanting to wholeheartedly serve Him.
A true understanding of the grace of God results in works. However, works are a response to what God has already done, rather than a way to get God to respond to us. The problem with some of today's more popular Christian theology is that people are told to give money, pray, and serve in order to get something back from God. Unfortunately, all those activities should be our response to what God has already done in our lives.
Here are two examples of how it works: We don't need to study the Bible to get God to love us; He already loves us by grace. However, we do have to study the Bible to renew and remind ourselves of how deeply God loves us. And we don't have to go to church to obtain God's grace, because we already have it. We participate in fellowship to encourage one another, keep our hearts from becoming hardened, etc. (Hebrews 3:13: "But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called 'Today,' so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 10:25: "Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another -- and all the more as you see the Day approaching.)
Questions to Ponder:Are you more engaged in service than you were a year ago? Are you embracing and enjoying the grace of God? What is the source of your motivation to serve? Are you responding to God's grace or something else? We have to resist the influence of our human nature in order to rest in God's grace. Hebrews 4:11: "Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." Is there an influence you need to resist?