Mercy Street Church of Christ
Abilene, TX
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Depth of our faith

God … will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek … immortality. (Romans 2:5, 6-7)

Parents may reward a young child’s generosity with money, a sticker, or some other treat. As he matures, they may reward him only with words of approval and praise. Their ultimate goal is that he will give without expecting any reward, simply because he has become—and enjoys being—a generous person.

Like small children, we sometimes think of heaven and hell as matters of external reward and punishment. We try to be good because we want to go to heaven, and we avoid sin because we don’t want to go to hell. But the truth is that we are saved by God’s grace and our faith. God wants our faith, not our fear, to be the reason why we obey his commands and strive to live a righteous life. He wants our faith to form us so that we reject selfishness and learn how to lay down our lives for one another.

In a sense, then, our selfish or unselfish choices represent the depth of our faith as well as our response to God’s grace. Every time we close our hearts to someone, every time we choose to indulge ourselves, we become less capable of entering into the loving relationships that constitute heaven. Every time we turn a deaf ear to God and go our own way, we become more estranged from him. We end up building a hell for ourselves out of the many self-centered choices we have made.

On the other hand, every time we sacrifice in order to be generous, we experience another touch of heaven. Whenever we set aside time to build a friendship with Jesus or say yes to a prompting of the Holy Spirit, we become more fitted for eternal life in God’s kingdom. With each of these choices, we are building a character that belongs in heaven because it is more and more like Jesus.

So yes, our actions matter. But not because we can “earn” heaven. No, every deed shapes our hearts. Every act of trust, faith, and humility helps shave away the selfishness that keeps us from the Lord. And the closer we get to him, the closer we get to heaven.

“Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me the hope of heaven. Make me fit for your kingdom.”

Psalm 62:2-3, 6-7, 9; Luke 11:42-46

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