This world has taught us to earn.
We’ve been conditioned to earn since childhood — earning praise and affirmation from parents, earning grades from teachers, earning playing time from coaches, earning attention from boys or girls, eventually earning paychecks from employers. We learned how to earn before we learned how to speak or even walk.
But our penchant for earning paralyzes us before God’s offer of true grace. We don’t know how to receive favor without working for it. And so we subtly (or not so subtly) trade away the one true gospel because we prefer to work for and serve God as slaves (or at least as employees), and not as sons. We don’t feel safe letting him do all the work, and earning gives us some false semblance of control. We simply can’t believe eternal security and everlasting life could be offered as a gift.
Galatians suggests that we will be tempted to compromise and deny the gospel by treating God as an impersonal
Master, and not a father. We’ll try to prove ourselves to him and earn his love when he has already loved us, and sent his Son for us.
“We subtly begin to feel and act like employees, when God has made us sons and daughters.”
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:4–7)
Three unusually sweet promises lie in these four verses for precious sons and daughters of God. First, when God redeems, he secures us forever. He never forgets or forsakes his own children, with Christ, we have eternal security. Second, we have intimacy — a deep, personal, satisfying relationship with a heavenly Father, who knows us thoroughly, who loves us continually, and who promises to protect and provide for us. Third, with Christ, we become heirs of all things — all things. Security. Intimacy. And the truest, fullest prosperity.
If we have all of this in the gospel already, then we dare not stray from it, and we need not try to earn God’s salvation or chase final satisfaction in this world. Nothing in our lives here is worth losing what God alone can give his children. When we compromise the gospel or leave it behind, we risk losing everything. It’s impossible to describe how much is at stake. There is nothing more important for us to get right than how we get right with God.
We double our offense against him when we think we have any ability to make it all right again on our own. We don’t have to — in fact, we must not try, because God has done the work for us and made us a part of his beloved family. And because we’re his sons and daughters, we have eternal security, deep intimacy, and infinite wealth. Best of all, we have him.