The following narration is a paraphrase of what John Piper said in His book, “Future Grace”.
Imagine you had a parent who bought you a house. It was the perfect house; allowing you to rest, find joy, peace, and have happiness….
It was everything you dreamed of and more, the place you anticipated and had been searching for, for years.
You move into that house, and live there happily.
But then one day, you go out and get a burdensome job, seeking more and more cash to pay your parents your first, second, and third months rent.
But who pays for what’s already theirs, you say? Who gives as recompense, payment for what was already given as a free gift?
Sounds ridiculous, right? Yet, how many of us treat salvation like this? Living, trying to pay God back for the freedom He died for?
Why do we try in our own strength to be “holy” or “good”? Working to prove to God (and others) that somehow we were worthy of what we got, when we found Jesus?
And I did not realize it, but these past few weeks, I needed to slow down. I had been running like a hamster on a wheel, thinking I was getting along fine….doing all the “right things”…
But I had forgotten, failed to listen, was too busy to hear the Lord whispering, “Be still”.
I open Ephesians, ask the Lord for what to write. I find what Paul says to Ephesus between 60 – 61 AD, while he is behind bars during his first Roman imprisonment.
And what is it about silence that makes us hear clearly….about immobility and stillness that helps us feel His Spirit moving? What is it about waiting, that makes His Words come and change us in a way where He might have been muffled, or drown out, or justified away in our business?
And He calls to me, gently, to greater humility. He unveils my striving, shows me ways I had been rising in my own strength (without even realizing it).
Still, as we clench self-seeking hands tighter, why are we often forgetting, whatever we give Him, He returns to us, multiplied?
And it is there in the quiet He gives vision, whispers secrets, stills my heart, and calls me to “trim the fat” even more, not doing unless He speaks ever so clearly to follow…
Him the Shepherd, leading the flock, me just a simple, ignorant sheep.
And in this quiet, I find Paul more than some centuries old man. It’s like I know him as a friend, both bond-servants to the same Jesus.
And isn’t scripture more than words, having the power to infuse us, calling us to stand and walk, live and breath, creating life in us where we were dry bones, but didn’t realize it?
I relate with Paul, as He curls up in His cell and scribbles out what He has learned in his quiet confinements….
Ephesians mentioning, “free grace”, in Chapter 2, verse 7 and 8. Chapter 3, verse 7, and over and over again….
And Paul reminds us, we were sinners, heathens, dead until His grace saved us, found us and made us alive. (Eph 2:1)
God [actually picked us out for Himself as His own] before the foundations of this world (Eph 2:4)…
And can’t you almost hear Him calling us in our weakness, to be His righteousness; holy, set apart, walking boldly in our calling…empowered and endowed with the fullness of His Spirit?
Yet, why is it we live like debtors, spending our life trying to pay God back for what He has already freely given?
Why do we exhaust ourselves, trying to act more important than we actually are; striving, laboring, and trying to prove to the world that we are worth our “free house” in heaven…when apart from Him, we are not….
Scripture calls all our good efforts, filthy rags.
Is it because we don’t know our true identity in Him?
And even as I write this, I run to go shopping. It is there I hear a parent tell her screaming daughter that she better, “be good”, so she can “earn a new outfit”. (Yes, she actually said the word, “earn”)
And oh friends, it grieved me….though I am sure I have walked down a similar path, and am also guilty of similar doings.
But sadly, this child was maybe three and was already learning she must earn, and strive, and achieve, obeying simply so she can “get” something from her parent?
And is that what the world really teach us? That we “earn stuff” if we “act good”? When doesn’t scripture teach us….the rain falls on the just and unjust?
We don’t have to earn Him…but become clothed in HIS righteousness, the moment we believe.
Or is there some kind of imaginary scale the world weighs us on…When the Bible is clear….apart from Him…we are all left, found wanting.
And if we aren’t teaching our kids about grace, or walking in the confidence that our “house” in heaven has already been purchased….who will?
Won’t you join me in spending some time in Ephesians, grabbing a hold of the free gift that is ours in Christ Jesus?
Won’t you join me in laying down agendas and start living in and from the joy that is in Him, because of the blood He shed for us?
“For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgement and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourself [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is a gift of God…
Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not a result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory for himself].
For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live].” Ephesians 2:8-10
Are you ready to live today? Working from a position of free grace, with the sole intent of giving Him praise?
Isn’t it time we stop trying to pay for what is already ours in the first place?
“Not for sale”.
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