We get it. It is by God’s grace that we receive faith to be saved. And this faith is not something that we have engineered. It is nothing that we have worked for, acquired, or have been awarded. This faith is solely a product of God’s grace extended to us.

As followers of Christ, we generally agree with the premise, while we may sometimes forget this truth in practical expression. Upon honest self-inspection, we admit we fall way too short in earning something so mysterious yet amazing. This is a truth that each of us is faced with every day. Each new day that God gives us to live only furthers the depths of His grace. Every day, our sin increases. But so does the sufficiency of God’s grace. Ultimately, we know that our sin cannot outdo God’s grace. That is our confession; that is our hope.

Earning God’s grace, however, is no longer our greatest struggle. We’ve relinquished this pursuit and have surrendered in faith. After the wrestling, the clawing, and the scratching to prove ourselves worthy, we’ve finally submitted in our defeat. No, earning God’s grace is no longer a problem. We now face another danger that is just as terrible.

We attempt to mask this trap with our verses and miscellaneous forms of spiritual disciplines. We label this deathly hazard as one expression of our “spiritual act of worship” (Romans 12:1). We claim that this is a simple way to “love God with all of our heart, our mind, our soul, and our strength” (Mark 12:30). This is our duty, our commitment; this is our obligation.

It is called many things. Love. Discipleship. Worship. Spiritual disciplines. And all of these things are beneficial and necessary to the growth of a believer. But where do they go wrong? When do they miss the mark? Answer: When we perform them in response to God’s grace as a method of payment versus with an attitude of thankfulness.

Did you catch that? The difference almost seems subtle, but the expanse between the two is astronomical. In the former, we live as if we are indebted to God and live as if trying to pay Him back. The latter is lived in humility as an expression of gratefulness. In the former, we become discouraged and ashamed when we fail or don’t live up to our standard. The latter lives in a certain freedom that has rejected a personal or corporate, religious standard. In fact, this believer knows that no earthly measure is good enough and finds delight in living without one. Yes, sovereign freedom.

You see, while many Christians profess their inability to earn God’s grace, they spend the rest of their lives trying to pay it back. However, real sovereign freedom recognizes that we cannot earn God’s grace on the frontend nor compensate God for His grace on the backend. There is nothing we can do to earn grace, and there is nothing we can offer to reimburse God. In both scenarios, we will always come up short.

God extended you grace, not a line of credit. Stop living to pay Him back.