Tuesday, November 10, 2009

I Have to Earn It

I just had the opportunity to spend some time with a young teen that had some questions about the existence and goodness of God. We talked for some time about the existence of God, then discussed the reason for evil in this world. I then told him how God had sent his Son, Jesus, to die in our place and take our punishment upon himself.

At that point he asked me why, if Jesus had paid for our sins, God would still punish people. I sensed that this was not an opportunity to expound upon the doctrine of particular redemption and decided that I would approach it from a different angle.

I pulled a dollar out of my pocket and offered it to him, intending to use this as an illustration that God offers us the gift of salvation by his grace and that we need to receive it. The illustration worked far better than I expected. As I held out the bill, a look of horror came over his face and when I told him he could take it he shook his head and said, “No! I can’t!” I was surprised, because I had never experienced a 12 year old that would refuse a dollar bill. I asked him why and his first response was, “Because it doesn’t belong to me.” I told him it belonged to me and I wanted to give it to him. He said that he couldn’t take it. When I pressed him further for a reason, he said, “I didn’t earn it!”

For a moment I was speechless, then I told him, that is why people are punished even though Jesus died. They still face God’s wrath because they don’t receive his gift. I talked with him about how something is not a gift if you earn it.

He never took the dollar, and he hasn’t yet trusted Christ, but I am praying for him.

This was just a reminder to me of the power that self-sufficiency has in our lives. We feel that we have to earn something, even when it is offered as a gift. Not only is this too often a roadblock to salvation, it is also a roadblock to our sanctification. May God grant us to recognize that though this grace cost God the death of his Son, he offers it to us as grace, no payment necessary, no earning possible.

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