By Joel A. Hess –
It’s OK to help that old lady across the street. It doesn’t mean you are trusting your own works for salvation.
It’s OK to buy a box of peanut butter to donate to the food bank. It doesn’t mean you are parading your righteousness before others.
It’s even fine to write down a list of goals that you would like to accomplish by the end of the year:
- Set aside 1/2 hour each day to read Scripture and pray
- Increase giving to the Church by 5%
- Stop swearing and speaking crudely around the wife
Seriously! Yes, you are completely saved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Yet it is definitely God-pleasing to want to be a better person—to look more like that child of God that stares back at you in the magic mirror of Holy Baptism.
Trying to be a better person does not mean you are robbing Jesus of His sacrifice for your sins. It is OK to offer advice to a sister in Christ who aspires to be a better person. It doesn’t necessarily mean you will forget to tell her clearly, “Christ is the best person so that you don’t have to be!”
It is OK to do good works, brothers and sisters in Christ. It is even a great idea to plan on doing good works! Gasp! That does not mean that God is not planning good works for you to do at the same time. Don’t worry. You will not ruin His plan.
Go ahead act out your repentance. Take steps to stop trespassing against God and hurting yourself and others. It doesn’t mean you think you can be perfect or completely sinless. It doesn’t mean you think you must prove your sorrow to God in order to be forgiven. And yes, your repentance will always be half-assed. So what. Do it anyway!
You are free to do your best! You are free to try! God loves you. He forgives you. He will pick you up when you fall down. So don’t bury your dollar in the dirt. Go make it work! You are free to fail.
You are like the cracked stained-glass saint in that old church you remember from your youth. God’s grace shines through your failures more than your successes! God’s mercy is poured upon the world working through you! Yeah, you! So don’t be afraid. It’s OK to try. You are free to do just that.