Grace and Works

Daily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
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And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved.

Romans 11:6

Throughout Romans, Paul has been dealing with the question of how we are made right with God. Is it through our own efforts? Our own good works? Or is it through God’s grace offered in Jesus Christ? Paul’s answer is that we are made right with God only by the grace given in Christ, whose death brought us new life. This is true even for the Jews, who received God’s law and were to live in faithfulness by keeping the law. Yet the foundation for their relationship with God was not their own efforts, but God’s grace, that which is free and undeserved.

Sometimes Protestant Christians, of which I am one, have, in our correct emphasis on grace, neglected the value of good works. Yes, we are saved only by grace through faith. But that’s not the end of the story. In Ephesians 2, the fact that we are saved by grace provides the foundation for a new life of good works: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10).

Because we are saved by God’s unmerited kindness and favor, we do not have to worry about trying to earn God’s salvation through what we do. But, in response to the amazing gift of grace, we offer our lives to God, seeking to do the good works that he has planned for us. Our works are, therefore, a form of worship, through which we honor God in every facet of our lives.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Are you ever tempted to think that you can and should earn God’s favor through your works? What helps you to rely confidently on God’s grace? How does grace lead to good works in your life?

PRAYER: Gracious and merciful God, how utterly thankful I am that I belong to you because of your grace. I know that I am saved “by grace alone,” and for this glorious truth I am eternally grateful.

Yet, strangely enough, I am sometimes tempted to minimize your grace, and to think that I must earn your favor by what I do. Forgive me, Lord, for such foolishness. Help me to live each day in utter reliance upon your grace. As I do, may I indeed walk in the good works you have planned for me. May your grace within me grow into works that glorify you and extend your kingdom in this world. In the name of Jesus, I pray, Amen.