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Put the Shovel Down

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9
Put the Shovel Down Book Cover

Try to imagine a huge pit in the ground. It is ten feet wide, circular, and dark. In the bottom of the pit is only a shovel. Somehow a person finds herself at the bottom of this terrifying pit. She picks up the shovel and figures she will dig herself out of this pit. After hours of back breaking, sweat inducing shoveling, someone lowers a rope ladder to her. Instead of climbing the ladder to her freedom, the woman figures she might as well keep digging. She would rather help her own rescue by digging to freedom than receive the free gift of the ladder. Though this woman represents a comical and foolish depiction of stubbornness and self-righteousness, this caricature sadly represents how many of us feel about salvation. We want to help.

the gospel is free for you

The good news of the gospel declares that we are the passive recipients of God’s saving work. God sits us in a chair and stands before us showing us the great heights, depths, and lengths he will go to rescue us from our sin and brokenness. Every few seconds as God declares his undying love for us, we stand up and try to help. He gently walks us back to the chair, sits us back down, and says, “Only I can save. Receive.” He continues on about his desire to reconcile us to him and his plan to do so. We stand again and ask how we can make it easier for him. He smiles, walks us back to our chair, and reminds us, “Sweet child, this is my gift to you. Receive.” He continues on about his plan for our future and how he has big plans for us. We stand again and remind him nothing good in life is truly free. He walks us back over, and gets down on one knee. He lifts our chin with his gentle hand and looks us in the eyes. He smiles, this time sadly because he knows the toll this world has taken on us. And he reminds us again, “I know this world demands more from you all the time. I know that in this world there is often a cost too high for the good things in life. But, child, my kingdom works on a different economy. My gospel is free, and only free.”

put down the shovel

The good news of the gospel beckons you to put down your shovel, cease your striving, and receive what only God can offer—the salvation of your soul. The triune God eagerly wants to save you, but we have to come on his terms. He gives us everything, and we simply say yes. Put down your shovel, and pick up the cross.


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Daily Question

Why do we want to contribute to our own rescue? How is the gospel opposed to this thinking?

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Comments (10)

We want to contribute to our own rescue because we feel that if something is given to us we need to repay the person who gave it. We feel that we owe them something. Hence understanding the free gift from God is not easy to grasp. It is difficult to fully become a "passive recipient of God’s saving work". I know it, I get it, but not necessarily easy.

We believe the saying “God helps those who help themselves”. So we foolishly think we have to “help” God. The Gospel tells me salvation is a gift we simply receive from Jesus.

God’s free gift of grace is so "other", so "not what we are used to" and the world is ALWAYS telling us otherwise. Entrance into the Kingdom of God can only be gained by free grace, we just have to say we want it.

Luckily for us, we can contribute to our own rescue. Jesus has done the work…it is true…but I have to do the work of submitting my will to God’s. I have to do the meditating and prayer. I have to ask for help in surrendering my arrogance. I have to refocus and remember God’s message of loving Him and my fellow men. All this is work. Of course, I don’t measure up but I still have to be willing. This takes every day effort, humility, and conversation with God.

It is easy to think that we can take care of things all by ourselves. When we have gone done that path for a while, we realize we are not capable of doing it on our own. WE NEED JESUS. The gospel is free for our taking and we need to understand that God’s salvation is what will fill our lives forever and ever.

I think it is innate to want to help others and do good works…it feels good and it feels right. It is also innate to think there must be a reward for good works so somehow our small finite minds associate our good works with salvation. We think God will forget about our sin if we can outweigh those sin with good works. Clearly, according to the scripture repeatedly reminding us that salvation is a gift, not a reward, we should know that our thinking is definitely wrong. Furthermore, if we could be saved by good works, then Christ died for nothing!

When we consider the countless ways in which we have sinned, the burden of guilt makes us feel unworthy of being rescued. And surely not without us attempting to assist since we are the ones that caused the misfortune. However, the gospel proclaims the good news of Jesus Christ, the man who came to take away the sins of the world. It’s hard to fathom that someone who is not guilty of sinning would be willing to pay the price for what we have done. But His love reaches far beyond anything we could ever imagine! We don’t have to prove our worth to Him nor do we have to save ourselves. The price for our lives has already been paid.

I have a hard time asking for help. Mainly bc I don’t want to feel like a burden to anyone else and also partly, (and selfishly) I don’t want someone to dangle that favor over my head. I’ve been hurt in the past, so I’ve projected my insecurity in asking for help. I have figured that I can just do it on my own. God wants us to let down our ego and let people in. Regardless, we need people. Needing each other and showing love is what the Lord wants us to do. Love thy Lord Thy God and Love Thy Neighbor.

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