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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 (11)

I think this stems from the need to be "self-efficient". I know I have been burned by this world so many times when I leaned unto someone else for help and guidance. So thinking that I have no control over my own salvation and that I have to trust can be scary. On the other hand, when looking at how pure and holy God is. My fears seem to fall away, because I know that there is no way I could repay him.

I want to contribute to my own rescue because I haven’t accepted in my mind & heart that God is the one I need to count on ; not by my own efforts.
I must learn to let go & Trust God

God wants us to rely on him for our salvation to deliver us.

I think it’s ingrained in us from society. The world tells us if we work hard we will benefit from our hard work. Keep working. Put in more hours. Sacrifice time away from your family. Do more. If it isn’t working out then give more. Pull up your boot straps and keep on trudging forward. Don’t stop. BUT the gospel is different. We have to completely change the way we think, focus and live. God is waiting with arms open wide and saying “Just come to me. Accept me. I’ve already accepted you. Let me help. I’ll carry your burdens. I will help your broken heart. Put down the shovel and stop trying to do it alone.”

Difficult to accept help from others. Hard to receive, to recognize we can’t save ourselves. The Gospel says the opposite, to take help, to receive the grace of God often.

As humans, we are hard wired to be self-sufficient and even more so here in America and double more in the mid-west. I also think it is out of guilt and shame that people want to contribute to their own salvation. But we can never do enough to be clean in Gods presence. Only through Jesus are we saved.

I would like to remember this passage as I need to rely more on God, not just for my salvation but for my everyday needs, guidance, strength, peace, and all my other needs. This is the area in my life where I try to do it on my own and fail. I continue to work on my reliance on God through prayer and devotional.

We don’t see the REAL meaing of Jesus on the cross. We think we get it, but we really don’t. We are not helping God, but actually hindering His work on earth.

It seems to be common for people to want to be in control of there world.We want to do what is needed to get to where we want. There is a pride in knowing we accomplished the task . Salvation is about receiving .The world wanrs us to be in a rat race.God wants us to have peace

I’ve been taught to work hard. I enjoy working hard and putting forth my full effort because I generally see the fruits of those labors and I take pride in knowing that it wasn’t given to me, but that I worked for it. The gospel is so counter-intuitive to this. Praise the Lord, because my "work" will never ever be enough to satisfy what Christ did on the cross for me.

I think we want to conteobute to our own rescue because we think we are not good enough to be rescued or loves so freely. Like we must earn it to be valuable and real. Love from God is like no other love, it toiches me deeply that he cares and underatands what we jave gone theough and how the world has changed us and how it can be dfficult to put down the shovel and pick up the cross.

Praise God for His abundant love and grace that makes our faith a journey in relationship with Him rather than trying hard to be better and better. We try to help ourselves because that’s what we see all around us in the world. The Gospel is about love not law!

We each have to know there are no "good works" that bring us to the Love or Salvation grace offered. Thanks be to God.

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