"I can do it by myself!" The toddler demanded.
"Yes, you can." Replied the proud parent.
We admire independence and encourage self reliance. As parents we teach our children to work hard and be responsible. Even the scripture teaches that maturity is more desirable then immaturity. We are told to grow up, stop drinking milk, eat solid food, and stand on our own two feet.
Is it any wonder that when it comes to our salvation that humans have a predilection toward working out their own salvation, and when Paul tells the Philippians to do just that there is confusion?
There is a balance between self reliance and pride. What teen hasn't been left standing, scratching their head at their parent's statement, "we are proud of you, but be humble about it."
We live in a can do society, and that is a breeding ground for cheating and dishonesty for those who can't do. The books are cooked, mistakes covered up, and laziness dismissed. The standards are lowered so that everyone can succeed.
But what happens when the standard remains high, so high that no one can achieve it? What happens when our best will never be good enough? What happens when reconciliation with God is humanly impossible? One of two things.
First, man attempts to change the rules. His efforts become paramount. The nature of God is changed. A loving God wouldn't punish someone who really tries hard, so the standard is lowered. In the end you have a watered down view of a holy God who is secondary to the process of reconciliation. Man is the focus.
Or, when man is at his weakest, at his utmost vulnerability, a Holy God steps in to display the riches of his mercy, the immeasurable abundance of his grace, and provides a way that is not dependent of the objects of his love. The focus is on God.
The standard remains high, the Holy God remains just, and the accolades are turned toward the appropriate person. Salvation becomes a gift not a reward, and the recipient becomes grateful not proud. Even our faith is a gift; the insight to believe a product of the Holy Spirit.
Today I must go and produce something to be considered a valuable contributor of society. I am glad, relieved, ecstatic that I don't have to worry about the most important aspect of my life, my salvation. God has that taken care of for His honor and glory, and for that I am eternally grateful. I'm just saying...
"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." Epesians 2:8,9