8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
One of the greatest hindrances to the grace of God in your life is self-effort or works. Self-effort tells you that you merit or deserve God’s favour by what you have done, or by who you are. To merit something means to have a right to claim something as your reward. Self-effort tells you, “I’m so good that God had to give me this.” Merit is also the description given to the class of people who are in a prominent position because of their real or apparent ability.
Can you begin to see that self-effort or works is a big hindrance to the grace of God? Someone says, “I have lived a Christian life successfully for the past ten years, therefore I deserve what good things are coming my way.” There is a very thin line between the grace of God and works or self-effort; and if care is not taken, it is very easy to cross over this line. Surprisingly enough, people who are well taught in faith are susceptible to become “proud” of their faith accomplishments and feel like they deserve the goodness of God.
In some churches, people are simply “awarded” the position of a pastor. Instantly that tells me that they have no understanding of grace. If somebody is a very wealthy person, and the pastor recognizes him as somebody who can give a tithe of about one million Naira regularly, then the church decides that he deserves to become a pastor. A lot of Pentecostal churches select pastors that way. That is ridiculous and contrary to the concept of grace.
In some churches a member is made a deaconess after a number of years of serving. If she serves successfully as a deaconess, for a number of years, she can then be promoted into the office of a pastor. Thereafter, if she serves faithfully in the office of a pastor, she is promoted into the office of a reverend and it goes on like that. That is not grace. She could become a deaconess in the will of God at 20 years of age and serve successfully as a deaconess for 80 years and go home to be with the Lord at 100 years. It doesn’t make her a failure. If anything, such a person becomes a legend, worthy of emulation.
Confession: I will not hinder the working of God’s grace in my life through self-effort.