Not a result of works, so that no one may boast...
"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9
Many of us have read this passage of Scripture soo many times that we kind of glaze over it when we return to it thinking, "yeah, yeah, I know. Its great." I did that again myself this morning. But then I reread Chapter 2 because my mind wanders and I realized I wasn't actually digesting anything that I was reading. So I read it again. Those 2 verses caught my eye. They are obviously referring to coming to Salvation in Jesus Christ, which is why if we are already saved, we find ourselves glazing over them. But look again. I was specifically struck by "And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." I was struck with just how applicable and freeing that phrase is to our entire lives. We are truly unable to accomplish or do anything in our lives apart from Christ working in us, through us, around us, etc. I think we forget that a little too often. I know I do.
I am fully aware that many people think that because the Lord has called me to the mission field, that I must be like a warrior of faith, never miss my daily bible-study, know Scripture like the back of my hand, love to serve selflessly 24/7, and can witness boldly to anyone that crosses my path. You don't have to say those things directly...it is very clearly implied by the comments I get when someone finds out I'm planning on going to Peru as a career missionary. It is tempting sometimes to take all the comments that people say treating me like some sort of "Super Christian" and let them go to my head. It is actually quite an active, ongoing struggle to try to not let myself think highly of myself. Sorry to dissapoint, but I am actually none of the above. Wait, I take that back, I am glad to dissapoint you if in fact you were dissapointed. It proves I am merely a sinful, depraved human - just like you.
I do have faith that the Lord will direct everything and work everything out ultimately to His glory, but there are tons of things in the practical everyday that I just don't know how to handle. I have ALWAYS struggled to have any sort of regular personal Bible study...most days failing to have it. I do know and have memorized lots of Scripture, but I can rarely give you the citation for the passage. One of my Spiritual Gifts is Service, but I am a very selfish person and feel imposed upon if there doesn't seem to be gratefullness for my service. And I will be the absolute last person in a group to approach a total stranger and share the Gospel with them. I much prefer the intimacy of a one-on-one interaction after a relationship has been developed. I do not consider all of these characteristics flaws, but I do recognize I still have tons to grow and learn.
Get the point yet? This was not meant to merely be a share and tell session, but try to think about all the ways we keep forgetting that without Christ, we could literally do NOTHING good. We are not supposed to boast in ourselves, but in our amazing God and creator who made us in His image and uses us, in spite of ourselves, to glorify Himself. Isn't it AMAZING!!! I was soo encouraged reading that passage because even though I feel like I am constantly failing God, He continues to work in my life and use me! We are still usable even if we aren't the "super Christian." It is us normal, sinful, complaining, puny Christians who desire and seek out to serve Him, but continue to struggle with our flesh, that He uses. Seriously, isn't our God and Father awesome!?!?!