Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Do My Actions Matter?

God 'will give to each person according to what he has done.' To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil… but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good...
Romans 2:6-10

“If I am saved by grace and not by being an especially good or deserving person, and if God loves me no matter what; then does what I do matter?”

Over the last year or so I have noticed an increase in confusion over this topic. It seems that nowadays it is not very hip to proclaim Leviticus 11:44 “Be holy because I am holy.” It is not hip to say that we as Christians are called to abstain from every kind of evil and to be holy and blameless before our God. In fact, right now as you read this, you may be thinking "But Leviticus 11:44 is an Old Testament scripture. We are under grace not under the law now, and we do not have to be nor can we be holy." Well, it is an Old Testament passage, but it is repeated two other times in the book of Leviticus alone, and is quoted in the New Testament in I Peter 1:15-16.

So how are we to understand this? Romans 2:4 says that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. This means that once we become Christians, by God’s grace not by our actions, we ought to be so thankful and amazed by God’s grace that we are motivated to repent of our sinful ways and are spurred on to do good deeds for the Lord. But it is also about the fact that the Bible teaches consistently that our actions have consequences. We see this every day in an earthly sense. We all know friends who got pregnant because of premarital sex, or who carry a burden of shame because of the same. Or we know friends who were killed in car accidents because of drunk driving. The list goes on.

We see this in an earthly sense, but the Bible also teaches it in a heavenly sense. Galatians 6:7-10 says that you reap what you sow, and that if you sow to the flesh you reap destruction but if you sow to the Spirit you reap eternal life. Notice that eternal life is a spiritual, heavenly gift. Also check out Matthew 6:1-24. See what Jesus has to say about laying up treasure in heaven.

I am not trying to tell you that God’s love is dependent on your actions. His love is far too amazing for that. But your actions do have earthly and heavenly consequences. I encourage you to be bold and courageous in separating yourself from sin. Pursue the Lord with your whole heart and you will receive your reward. Flee from sin in your life, put it away from you. And I don’t just mean "sex, drugs and rock and roll"; I also mean the more private sins that no one knows about but you. Put away pride and gossip, contention and strife, put away deceit and envy, put away trusting in things other than the Lord (idol worship). Seek God with your whole heart and you will receive your reward.

For further reading this week…
   -  Matthew 6:1-24: Do good in secret and the Lord will reward you.
   -  Galatians 6:7-10: You reap what you sow.
   -  Deuteronomy 30:11-20: Life or death decision.
   -  Psalm 62: Notice how David finds comfort in the fact that
      God ultimately repays everyone according to what they have done.
      (Especially vs. 12 which Paul may be quoting in Romans 2:6.)   


Jonathan said...

"You must therefore be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Mt. 5:48

It's a serious call and command, no doubt.

jessica romaneski said...

I like your reminder of getting rid of our "small" sins. When I think of how God wants every part of me sanctified, including my thoughts and attitude, I can get a little overwhelmed. Passages like the one in Philippians 2 bring me comfort though: "Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."

So by His power we are saved, but also by His power we are able to put away sin. I find it very encouraging that He Himself enables us to fullfill His call of holiness. It's not by our own strength (nor can it be, as the law reminds us).

Anyway, just a thought bubble generated by your posting that I thought I'd share :) Thanks for your exhortations.