For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
We often like to talk about ourselves and our accomplishments. We are proud of our children when they do well in school or do something of distinction. Groups and organizations hand out awards for all kinds of deeds large and small. Trophies are given to the best team in every sport. Perhaps even individually within ourselves we compile mental lists of all the things we have done. In a sense, we’re a society of boasters, proclaiming to the whole world every little thing we’ve done.
Imagine if we did earn our salvation by doing good deeds. How proud and boastful we would become to have such a long list of all the things we had accomplished. We would constantly compare ourselves to others around us, feeling pretty good if we’d done much more than they had done. We already pat ourselves on the back far too often. If we could earn salvation, we’d surely become insufferable boasters, proclaiming our own goodness, strength, and ability.
But that’s not the way it works at all. Salvation had to be given to us as a gift because, in truth, there is no good in us at all, no ability to do what it would take to earn it, no power within us to overcome the sin nature that entangles us all. Salvation is not a prize given to a deserving recipient who earned some kind of special favor. It is not something we are entitled to. In fact, we couldn’t be less deserving of it, and yet God gives it to us by His grace thanks to the completed work of Christ.
Salvation is an undeserved gift, and so we have nothing to boast about except the goodness of God and the greatness of His love for us. And that should produce in us not a pride that we’re something good in and of ourselves, but the humility that comes from knowing we are nothing at all, totally helpless and dependent on God. And that’s a good place to find ourselves, for it is God who deserves all the glory. Let’s be careful not to think too highly of ourselves, and let’s not fall into the trap of thinking we have to do something to earn God’s love or favor. His gifts are given freely, and we can freely accept them from Him.