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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)

We want to contribute our own good works. The gospel is opposed to this I think for two reasons.
1. We are saved by grace alone so the only thing I can contribute to my salvation is my sin. There is literally nothing I can do to make God love me more than He already does.
2. Scripture says that our righteous deeds are like filthy rags, so even our seemingly righteous acts are tainted by sin, especially when done in the flesh rather than the Spirit.

We live in a broken world in which every day people go about an "every day life" of worry, fear, stress, anxiety, and depression…all in the attempt to satisfy the demands of this world. I want to remember that I have been rescued and I am FREE. Although it’s in my nature to act and organize and lead the charge…God wants me to slow down and relax.

Giving up of control is hard for te Human brain to accept. The fact that there is someone out there, someone greater than ourselves who gladly has done everything already and wants to continue to do everything of us seems unfathomable.
But it is exactly why we are here and why He gave His life for us. So He could be everything to us and for us.

In today’s world, people respect resourcefulness and a "get up and go" attitude. However, that attitude is not what God wants from us regarding our salvation. We just need to sit and receive his love because we can’t create our own salvation.

We are so used to doing things our way, they way we want, even if it does not work out. This is mainly because we are afraid of something easier and free. We think there is always a price. The Gospel though is all about receiving and giving nothing in return, but accepting what God has to give. We just need to learn to let go and accept this.

Our human sinful nature to want to fix ourselves, and fix others…rather than fully trust God has FULL control. Consciously and continually surrendering control…

Salvation is a GIFT. Think when you receive a gift there’s nothing you do on your part…but choose to accept it! Free will to choose/accept Jesus into your heart.

For me once you understand just how much God love you it bring you to your knees to WANT to be obedient and follow him, to fall and get back up, to persevere and take heart!!! Jesus isn’t just a feel good Sunday or a game that sounds fun …he’s a game changer and give REAL LIFE!!!

We want to be in control, to be able to handle our lives ourselves. God isn’t interested in this, and instead wants us to rely on his salvation to deliver us.

We are programmed either by teaching or past life experience that we some how must contribute or we do deserve being rescued. Even today I had a discussion with my fiance’ about finances. I was admittedly opposed to a offer he gave to solve a concern sooner because I felt I needed to take care of it.He was reminding me that I was no longer alone in this that he was here to help me. In the same way God offers us the free gift of salvation and I can’t get past the thought that I have to do something to be righteous or saved.

Because Christ paid the price for our sins at the cross. He rescued us all once and for all.

We want to contribute to our own rescue because it makes us feel better about ourselves. For many people it is hard to receive a "handout" without doing something in return. We want to feel deserving or entitled to the help that we’ve received, even though the best friends and most reliable people in our lives are the ones who love us and give of themselves without expecting anything in return. This is the kind of love that represents Gospel love. Freely given, freely received. Salvation is Grace upon grace, not earned or deserved, it’s a gift from God, so that no one can boast.

Exactly! All we can do is love the Lord with all we’ve got, and follow his calling. The more I see others through his eyes – the more I find myself ‘passing it forward’ and pouring into others. So that we can run after Christ together.

There is some pride in one’s own efforts in a task – I think that is part of the motivation in our own work at salvation. Yet the gospel states that we don’t need to work or prove ourselves to earn salvation. It is free. We just need to believe and accept it fully from Him.

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