Romans 3: 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
As I’ve watched athletes of various ages, whether children, youth or adults, the successful ones have something in common – they all seem to believe that “it is possible”. They believe they can do it. They believe they can win a race, make a team, score the winning basket, or make the Olympics. They then put the work in to achieve their goals. While the most successful also have something else of importance, the necessary genes and physical attributes necessary to excel at their sport, they most definitely also need self-belief to succeed. They believe that if they work hard, they can make their dreams come true. They stick to it, to make it happen.
While this “stick-to-it-ness” is vital to excel in sports, this attitude is often not helpful in our Christian walk. While Paul talks about the value of being an overcomer in times of trial and hardship (Romans 8:31-37), this thing of effort can also make us miss the entire point of the gospel. For competent hard-working athletes or people in general, working hard for something comes naturally; accepting a gift can be much harder. The gospel, as clearly stated in the Bible, is not about working for anything, it is simply about accepting a free gift. Oswald Chambers speaks of this in a devotional The Riches of the Destitute:
“There is a certain pride in people that causes them to give and give, but to come and accept a gift is another thing. I will give my life to martyrdom; I will dedicate my life to service— I will do anything. But do not humiliate me to the level of the most hell-deserving sinner and tell me that all I have to do is accept the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.” O. Chambers
Our salvation has nothing to do with what we do, but everything to do with what Jesus Christ did on the cross. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9). I think we sometimes feel we understand this as Christians, but our actions speak differently. When we truly understand this, then we freely come before Christ and say: “I am a sinner saved only by your grace; Lord forgive me for my sins today; I am not self-sufficient, I desperately need you today. I am destitute without you”. This is an intensely humbling thing to say before God and it flies in the face of our self-sufficient attitudes.
“We have to realize that we cannot earn or win anything from God through our own efforts. We must either receive it as a gift or do without it. The greatest spiritual blessing we receive is when we come to the knowledge that we are destitute. Until we get there, our Lord is powerless. He can do nothing for us as long as we think we are sufficient in and of ourselves. We must enter into His kingdom through the door of destitution.” O. Chambers
How about you? Have you ever brought yourself to that place of destitution? Have you said to Christ: “I am a sinner separated from God, and only through the blood that you sacrificed on the cross for me, can I become a child of God. Lord come into my life, cover over my sins with your blood, I want to be a follower of yours”. If you have prayed that prayer then you are a child of God and your eternity is set in heaven. You need to continue on with that same attitude of reliance on God and of humility, living a life of ongoing repentance (1 John 1:9; James 5:16). By continually stating to God that you are destitute without him, you will keep a right attitude, one which declares your ongoing need for him.