For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

This is a story of two men, Joe and Sam. Both work hard, and both attend church on a weekly basis.

They both have similar lives. Their families are about the same size and both of their jobs are similarly boring and stressful. Their financial situations are also similar since they live paycheck to paycheck and can barley get by.

When they wake in the morning to get ready for work they’re both well aware that this day will be like every day before it. They know that the stress of their job will stalk them throughout the day, like vultures circling road kill.

After a rough day at the office, Joe gets home and allows the stresses of the day to consume him. It causes him to lash out at his friends and his family, and it takes a drastic toll on his marriage. He figures that since he got a raw deal, and life has been unfair to him, that he is justified to lash out at others in order to release his stress.

Sam gets home from a similar day at work, but unlike Joe, Sam does not allow himself to bring work home with him. He appreciates his situation and knows that things could be worse. He will deal with the stresses of work the following day. After all, there is nothing he can do about it until he returns to work anyway.

Joe and Sam both attend the same church, in fact they work at the same office. They know of each other, but that’s about it.

Joe attends church because he thinks that by doing so, he is a good person. He listens to the messages his Pastor delivers, but after he leaves church, he tends to forget the meaning of the message. He goes on with life just as before, and he continues to treat others in the same way he feels life treats him, like crap.

Sam, on the other hand, takes as much as he can from the message. He knows that he must try as hard as he can to live by faith in order to let go of his anxieties. He does stumble along the way, but he always gets up and continues to move forward in faith, rarely looking behind.

Sam is not of the mindset that simply attending church on a weekly basis will save him. He knows that Jesus has paid the price for his salvation and no amount of good deeds will change that. He has faith in Christ.

Joe however, thinks that the mere act of attending church and going through the motions is what will save him. He is not getting the message. He hears it, but does not understand it. He lacks faith.

Sam understands the meaning of Ephesians 2:8-9. Joe doesn’t.

You cannot earn you way to Heaven. If you could, you would be able to sin all day, every day, and then do some good deeds to make up for it. That is not how faith works. That is how evil works.

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