Do you remember being asked to “show your work” in math tests? I do. I remember how frustrated I would get that I could get the answer to a problem correct, but I might still lose points if I didn’t show my work!
Years later, I now understand the principle. Showing your work is a way to display your understanding of the underlying principles that guide mathematics, and confirm to the teacher that your answers are based on the correct foundational elements.
It reminds me of a verse in Ephesians: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV).
During times of doubt or personal struggle with sin, it is comforting and reassuring to know that our salvation is not based on us — on how well we behave, or how strong our faith is. It can be easy to think otherwise, unfortunately. We may know in our minds that our eternal salvation is secure in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf, but sometimes that may not feel like enough. Instead, we might feel like a test-taker being asked to “show our work,” to somehow prove that we have earned the outcome we know to be true. The voice of the accuser can enter our thoughts, asking, “What is your salvation really based on, though?”
If our salvation were based on anything we’ve accomplished, we would certainly be in trouble! But thankfully, we know that the opposite is true. Our salvation is solely by God, of God, and through God, from beginning to end. The “work” of our salvation has already been shown, on the cross, when Jesus redeemed us for all time. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18 NIV).
That verse says, “not by works, so that no one can boast,” but to me it might as well say, “not by works, so that no one can worry.” Our faith does not save us. God saves us, which means that no matter how good or bad a test taker you might be, the answer is already a passing grade.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.