Ephesians 2:8, 9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works that no one should boast.”
Sometimes words cannot really hold what God did for us, well most times.
And yet, just in case we get confused, and we often do, here it is plainly – God
did it all! Grace means unmerited favor. Sometimes we do not realize what a
great favor God has done for us in saving us from sin. Favor is just that, it’s not for wages. If we deserved it, then God would owe it to us, which is opposite of grace. We did not deserve His love. He is love and that is why He planned our salvation. Faith is our belief in that unmerited favor.
Even the ability to believe is a gift, a free gift. God did not give us His favor and then say, “Well now you have to add to what I did for you by being real good or you’ll lose this gift.” Think of how powerful and strong this grace must have been then and still is now. It took us from a place of darkness, judgment, sin and punishment with no way out. We can never do anything good enough to get ourselves out of that place – nothing. Jesus did not do it for us because, “oh well, He had to.” He freely chose to give us this gift.
I kept going over in my mind, “and that not of yourselves.” It is not that we
couldn’t work hard enough to earn the gift or create the grace ourselves;
it is plainly “not of us!” It is not in us, of us, around us, beside us or in any part
of us. When I get busy helping God out, I am totally blinded to any gift of His.
The irony is that striving to work for grace just makes you crazy. The work never
satisfies because grace cannot be earned. Strangely, even if I work to please
God, then really He would owe me something (like I stated above) and then it is no gift at all. Even the ability to believe and trust in what He did on the cross for me is a gift. We can take no credit for believing – it is all His doing, therefore, we can relax, stop striving and humble ourselves and just take the gift; enjoy it, and see it multiply in our lives. Boasting is all and only for God – He gets all the glory.
“Not of ourselves” – if you go back to Adam and Eve, God created them,
they did not create themselves. And nothing has changed since then. All
things are “not of ourselves.” This in itself is a real gift, even though we do
not recognize it as such. To be saved from ourselves is a huge gift that we
only see when we come to the end of ourselves. “Come Lord and help us to
cease from striving and know you are God – YOU are able!”