Balance Grace and Works

As we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, reflect upon the great truths that we are made right with God through faith, a gift of God’s grace. And we are saved to be new creations, created to do good works in his power, for the good of the world.

Monday – Galatians 2.15-21. “Martin Luther died in the early morning hours of February 18, 1546. His final words echo the seminal discoveries he made, and fought for: ‘We are beggars. This is true.’ Beggars, indeed — because God demands a righteousness we cannot produce. One, in fact, that if we could produce would nullify the grace of God and the meaning of Jesus’s sacrifice (Galatians 2:21). Embodying devotion to the sacred Scriptures, Luther came to understand that we need an ‘alien righteousness,’ outside ourselves. We need a righteousness produced and provided for us by another (John Piper, Martin Luther: Lessons from His Life and Labor).

Tuesday – Philippians 2.12-13. “It is easy to acknowledge, but almost impossible to realize for long, that we are mirrors whose brightness, if we are bright, is wholly derived from the sun that shines upon us” (C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves). Jesus Christ is the means of our hope of salvation and freedom from the tyranny of sin and selfishness. Now, we do work to reflect His goodness for the good of our world. We must remember, it is always His goodness that we seek to reflect, and not our own.

Wednesday – Ephesians 4.14-16. In his gospel, John described Jesus as being full of grace and truth (John 1.14). Here, Paul tells believers that by speaking truthfully in the spirit of the love of Jesus, we will grow up into Christlikeness. Can you and I speak truth, and speak it in a loving way? If we speak truth, yet without love, we can be judgmental, harsh. However, ignoring truth, focusing only on love can lead us to compromise God’s standard. Let our prayer be to grow in relating with others truthfully and lovingly.

Thursday – 2 Peter 1.3-4. Peter tells us something that is astounding. Through God’s power, provision, and promises made available to us by knowing Jesus by faith, God develops in us the capacity to share in His nature, His character. Your destiny is different from what it was before you encountered Christ. You can now grow in Christ, to know Him better and to be transformed from a self-centered life. Today, thank the Lord for giving us everything we need for life and godliness.

Friday – 2 Peter 1.5-7. We partner with Christ in our growth as His disciple. Faith must be more than belief in certain facts. It must result in action, growth in Christ’s character, and the practice of moral discipline. God empowers and enables us, but He also gives us the responsibility to learn and to grow. “We must be the people of God before we can do the work of God.” (Alan Fadling) Today, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to show us if there are any aspects of our lives that are not surrendered to Him. Sit in silence for a period of time, allowing God to examine your motives and priorities.

Saturday – 2 Corinthians 5.15-21. In this passage, Paul attempts to capture both the wonder and the so what of God’s work on our behalf. Christ Jesus Himself is our peace with God through His sacrifice! In so doing, His desire is that we are set free to live for Him, and His purposes, instead of being bound in our self-centeredness. We’ve been set free from sin to serve God in freedom and gratitude for the good of others. Amen.