Have you ever stolen from God? That may seem like a strange question to ask. We know that God gave the commandment: “You shall not steal.” Yet, when we consider that commandment, we normally think about stealing from people around us. We probably don’t often consider how we might be stealing from God.
Recently, I came across the following quote in a book entitled, “Grace Abounds: The Splendor of Christian Doctrine.” As this book was talking about the way we come to faith in Jesus as our Savior, it stated the following: “As we have noted so often before and need to note yet again, those who are converted have only God to thank for it and those who are not have only themselves to blame for it. That the miracle takes place in some is God’s grace; that it does not take place in others is their own fault. The Bible does not attempt to address the problem that our reason has with this answer. It does, however, make it very clear that any other answer robs Christ of his glory as Savior, is contrary to the clear Word of God, and deprives the Christian of needed comfort by driving him either in the direction of self-righteousness or of despair. We will therefore rest content with God’s Word!” (p.392).
How is it that we come to faith in Jesus as our Savior? It is purely by God working in our hearts through his Word. The Apostle Paul reminds us, “So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Romans 10:17). In his letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” (Eph. 2:4-5). Later in that same chapter Paul continued, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).
Paul makes clear that our faith and our salvation are not based on anything we do, but purely based on God’s grace. They are based entirely on what God has done for us in Christ Jesus. Jesus himself made that point when he said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you” (John 15:16).
Going back to the initial question, “have you ever stolen from God?” Each time we try to take credit for our faith or any part of our salvation, we are stealing from God. We are stealing the glory and honor that should go to him alone for our faith. Also, each time we try to take credit for our faith we are placing ourselves in danger of either self-righteousness or despair. We may be led to put trust in ourselves rather than in Christ alone. Or we may be led to despair by questioning whether or not we truly believe or have a strong enough faith.
In either case, the answer is Christ. Christ Jesus died for the sins of the world! That includes yours and mine. Thank God for his grace! He doesn’t leave our salvation up to us. He not only sent Jesus to be our Savior, but he has also worked faith in our hearts to believe in Jesus.
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