Day 61: Grace and Duty

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV

 

“Suppose one of you has a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Will he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? Won’t he rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? Will he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

Luke 17:7-10, NIV

 

I believe One of the most important things for Christians to understand is the relationship between grace and duty. When we read that we are not saved by works, many people conclude that works are not even needed. Of course this is wrong, because the same passage that points out that we are not saved by works also points out that we were created to do good works.

 

While this might be confusing at first, Jesus' teaching in Luke 17 helps us to understand. The fact is that we are servants, and the function of a servant is to serve. The Bible's teaching is clearly not that we have no work to do, it's just that work alone is simply not enough. That's where the relationship between grace and duty comes in: Though we could never do enough to be worthy of eternal salvation, (thus grace), we still have our part to do (thus service).

 

When we understand that we were created to serve, but that we are saved by grace through faith, it takes the pressure off. The reason for this is that we could never do enough work to pay back Jesus for His sacrifice, but through grace we can do enough to do our duty. And, when you think about it, that's all God has ever asked of anyone. No more, but no less!

 

Today's reading is Luke 17. Like the rest of the Word of God, it helps us to understand.