One of the mysteries of life for me is the marketing ploy of changing the packaging of a familiar product and then boldly proclaiming that we should buy the product inside because this packaging is “New and Improved!” If I didn’t like the “Crispy Crunchies” before, why would changing the packaging make any difference? If I did like them, why would I be happy to pay more just because they put new packaging around them. For some reason, though, people see the phrase “New and Improved!” on the box and they willingly buy the same old thing.
When we come to know Christ, it’s like we have new packaging. Paul tells us to clothe ourselves with Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14) but when we do that, the “packaging” begins the process of molding our lives to be like Jesus Christ. The problem that many people have is that once they have received Jesus Christ, once they have clothed themselves with Jesus, they begin to think that they need to add to this new package in order to grow in Him. In truth, we cannot add anything to Jesus Christ for our salvation or for our growth. “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7)
For some reason, the idea that we are forgiven by grace, we develop our relationship with God because of grace, and we continue to grow in that relationship with God through grace just doesn’t seem enough. We have this idea that we have to do something more. Maybe if I tell enough other people, God will love me more. Nope. We ought to tell other people about the love and grace of God, but we don’t do it to gain more favor with God; we do that because we are overflowing with thankfulness. Maybe if I give enough money, God will love me more. Nope. We ought to give to support the work of God, but seriously, is there any way anyone could scrape up enough money to give to even repay God for His grace, let alone make God love us more? Our job, once we have received Christ Jesus as Lord, is to live each day in Him. When we do that and we let His grace mold us into the people He wants us to become, we will experience great joy and be overflowing with thankfulness. It is out of this overflow that we become agents of God’s grace in our world.
The question we must ask ourselves when we “do things for God” is very simple. Are we serving Him because we feel obligated or are we serving Him out of an overflow of thankfulness? Those who serve Him out of obligation always have the idea that they’ve never done enough; that there’s always something more. Ultimately discouragement and joylessness sets in. People end up going through the motions of serving God fearful that if they don’t do it right, God will zap them and take them off the earth. Those of us who serve Him out of the overflow of thankfulness can tell you right away that we can never do enough to repay God. We serve Him out of the joy of our relationship with Him that comes through grace. We serve Him and share Him with others out of thankfulness so that others can feel that same joy. I confess that I can’t do enough to repay God for His grace. He doesn’t want me to. He does want me to grow in Christ with a heart overflowing with thankfulness that Jesus has made me new and improved.
Lord God, it boggles my mind when I think of all that You did to draw me back to You. I know that I could never do enough to repay You. So, I ask for even more grace. Continue to help me grow in You and become all that You desire. Let me experience joy in each step of our relationship because of Your grace.