My wife just traveled to Argentina and back. That trip would normally have cost more than we could pay, but it turned out to be quite affordable. We were able to pay for that trip with miles we had accrued by taking other trips. In the language of the airline industry, we had earned a reward.

That’s a popular concept these days. Many companies offer incentives based on your purchases with them. Take enough trips and you earn another one. Stay in a hotel and earn another stay. Use your credit card and earn rewards. Buy flowers, shop at the hardware store, rent movies, eat pizza … there are lots of ways you can get free things by earning bonuses.

I have no problem with that system. I like being rewarded. One problem I see, though, is that we often want to look at God as operating in the same way. If we do enough of the right things, we reason, God will be obligated to give us our reward. That's how many people in the world see it. Just make sure that you have done enough right things, and your future is secured.

But that's not how God works. He doesn't expect us to earn the reward that He has to give. And there is nothing that we can do to obligate God to do anything. What He gives, He gives because of His grace, not because we have been able to force Him to do something. What He offers, He offers freely, not with a price that we have to pay. There's not even a rewards plan where we can accrue enough points to go to heaven. It all depends on God. The apostle Paul wrote: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

There's no Frequent Prayers Plan, no Platinum Church Members Plan. There's just Jesus and His sacrifice. By accepting what He did for us with a loving, obedient faith, we get the reward that He earned for us. Now that's a great plan!

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