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Faith or Works?
by Elaine Pierce
If you read this passage of scripture by itself, you might come to the conclusion that our salvation is based on good works. However, scripture interprets scripture. Be careful of reading out of context. The parable of the sheep and the goats, as this passage is often called, is part of a longer teaching on the Kingdom of God. The salvation of the "sheep" is not based on whether they fed the hungry, or invited the stranger in, or clothed those in need, or visited the sick or
those in prison. The "sheep" have already been saved - their place in the kingdom is assured.
Take a look at these passages to anchor yourself in scripture:
Both sheep and goats can perform good works. The key is motivation. At Upper Arlington Lutheran Church, we have incredible opportunities to care for others. (Go to https://www.ualc.org/serve and you will be amazed by all the ways our body of believers is working to make a difference.) And I would encourage you to serve. But I would remind you that the goal in serving is not to punch your ticket to heaven. That ticket, my friends, has already been punched. Jesus paid the admission price through his death on the cross and his ascension to heaven. Yes, there will be a judgment day, but that is not what will guarantee us eternal life. So serve those in prison, those who thirst, those who are suffering in body, mind and spirit. Serve with a joyful heart, as an act of worship for the One who gave his Son that we might live.
Lord, my motivation to serve is often because I want to guarantee that you will grant me eternal life. Help me to accept that gift, and to acknowledge that my faith is assured, and that my works won't impress you. Open my eyes to the opportunities around me, and help me to serve with a grateful heart as an act of worship. Amen.