My musical tastes are somewhat eclectic. I have used at least one of our daily devotions to confess to being an Alice Cooper fan. I have referenced a Billy Joel song in a recent sermon. And today I am channeling Charlie Daniels. There’s a line in his song “Long-Haired County Boy” that I once quoted to my father. It says, “I ain’t asking nobody for nothing, if I can’t get it on my own…” I remember to this day how my dad responded, mentioning that this was a sad and self-centered way of thinking about going through life. (My dad has often had a way to get me thinking a little deeper on subjects.)
Around the time that my dad and I were debating lyrics and life patterns, I was working hard on many things. I worked hard in school, and thought that that alone led to my good grades. I worked hard at lots of tasks, both for hire and as a volunteer, and held folks that didn’t work as hard as I felt like I was working with disdain. And I worked hard at obeying every single commandment and comment that I could glean from the Bible, and came to think that this is why God loved me. I was pretty proud of what I was accomplishing in the world, and pretty blind to how it wasn’t my work alone that mattered.
In reading the story of his life in the Acts of the Apostles, and little autobiographical snippets in his letters, I think that Paul also worked pretty hard. He travelled far and wide sharing the gospel. He had been a zealous Pharisee who had moved right up the ranks in his religion. And then he came to find the one place where his work was not needed – in earning God’s love. When he told the Ephesians about his discovery, he said:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
There was something about this grace (love from God that is shared with us regardless of what we have done or not done to earn it) that changed Paul’s whole way of thinking and living. It made him more loving toward others. It made him realize his own shortcomings. And it made him truly love God in thankful response to god’s free gift.
I am glad that I have come to a place in life and faith where I realize that the only work that God wants from me, is me loving God and others as I have been loved by God. That’s made even easier when it’s done along with other God-loved people.
Thank You, God, for showering Your love upon me to the point that it has washed everything else aside. Let me direct that love toward everyone I meet today, in Jesus name. Amen .