What then shall we say? That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but the people of Israel, who pursued the law as the way of righteousness, have not attained their goal. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. – Rom 9:30-32
Here Paul is speaking about the difference between the Jew and the Gentile and between faith and works. The Jews still believe that it is by works alone they are saved by the Law through Righteousness. They have forsaken the Savior and have made their hearts hard against Him. They are stubborn and refuse to change.
Am I trying to serve God through works or by faith? One of my favorite sayings in life is that we are not saved by works but saved to work. Is my work a result of my belief in what Jesus has done for me or a religious duty because I believe that I am saved and this is what keeps me saved? When I view my faith in God as a religious duty then I am saying that I have to keep working in order to stay saved.
This is not the case at all. Faith, which is belief in action, is a result of what Jesus has done for me. I am not active for the Lord because I have to be or because there is some rule that says I must be. No, it is because of my love for God, which only comes after His love for me, that I work for the Lord. I work because I want to work not because I have to work.
It is the same with sin. I try my best to recognize and steer clear of sin in my life. Not because of the guilt or shame that it brings, but because of the obedience in love that I want to bring to my Savior. I do not want to sin because it takes me further away from the one I love, not because there is any kind of eternal consequence for sin.
Our faith is a matter of our motivation. Do we want to be saved because we don’t want to go to hell or is it because we love the Savior who first loved me? What is our motivation to show up on Sunday morning to be with the family? I want to be there because I want to love and serve each family member not because somehow it gives me some kind of credit in heaven or prevents me from going to hell. Let our hearts be motivated by love, the love of each other, the love of God’s word and the love of Christ, which is truly where our salvation come from.