Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
This verse makes me mad. I want to be able to feel like I have earned and worked for the results that I get, otherwise it feels like cheating or a shortcut. I want to feel like I have some kind of control over my results and my destiny. I want to be able to work and achieve things. To me it feels like it's baked in to who I am.
When you have a line of thinking like this, it can infect how you treat other people and God. God wants to have relationships with us, and in order to do that, we can't treat ourselves or our interactions with him or even other people as transactional. Imagine if you had to pay your dad every time that he took you to the park to play, or that if you want a hug from your mom you had to give her a compliment first.
One of the best parts about healthy relationships is that they don't have to be even and fair. I don't need or want my kids to pay me back for things that I buy for them or do for them, I just want to see them grow and enjoy themselves and to spend time with them. Is it imbalanced? Yes! Besides if we do want it to be a little bit transactional, they can take care of me when I'm old and senile. Payback!
There's really nothing that we can do for God anyway. Can you give him money? Can you earn his love by working harder? He's already the master of the universe anyway, what's the point? He can do whatever he wants. He doesn't need anything.
As a generous God, he gives away expensive gifts though. We get to enjoy this universe that he's created, we get to be loved by Him, and we get to avoid eternal damnation as long as we accept the gift. It's hard to understand this level of generosity because we tend to be cynical or trained to think transactionally.
It makes sense though, if I had earned my salvation, I wouldn't treat God as an entity that I could develop a relationship with. I would treat him more like a machine to acquire what I want.
I'm standing outside right now while writing this, and it strikes me that we can connect with God very simply through appreciation and gratitude. Admiring what he's created, appreciating what he's done for us, and just thinking about Him.