Let’s use a form of logic called an “argument to absurdity”. It is an argument that attempts to establish a claim by showing that the opposite scenario would lead to absurdity or contradiction. In these next few paragraphs let’s prove a point by looking at a foolish opposite!
Thirty-five years of ministry have required me to always hold some form of employment to accomplish God’s will for my life. During those years, I have held different positions but in each case, I both related to Paul needing to be a tentmaker so he in his own words “would not be a burden to anyone” 1st Thessalonians 2:9b(NIV). I also found it greatly useful to the Lord to get to know people from the various communities where I lived by working alongside them.
Sadly, I have had to be a part of firing a few people through the years. Fortunately, more often, however, by talking with employees, helping them to recognize their weak areas, and encouraging them to do better, I have seen them keep their jobs as a result. However, although an intentionally ridiculous thought, in all my years of working, there is one trait, which I have never seen cause a coworker to be fired. I have never seen or heard of anyone losing their job for working too hard. It simply does not happen! Usually, people are fired for being lazy or disinterested in doing an acceptable job. However, none of us have ever heard of anyone being fired for showing up early, for working longer than was expected of them, or for displaying excellence that goes beyond everyone one else in the workplace.
To draw a parallel, when it comes to teaching on the subject of grace our doctrinal positions have become greatly unbalanced. I believe this is not necessarily because we are not teaching truth but because we are ignoring other Biblical positions on the same subject that are also demonstrated by word and example in the scripture.
Imagine a missionary, home on furlough, coming to your church and describing in detail the great sacrifices that he and his family have had to make to reach a third-world country. Upon hearing him challenge your congregation to make some of the same sacrifices to reach your neighborhoods, picture someone responding “He’s teaching a Works Doctrine!” Albeit an extreme example, it’s the very same attitude permeating some of our churches in America. In short, we are teaching what I call a “greasy grace” message, ignoring things like personal sanctification and aspiring to “good works!” A national restaurant chain starts its mission statement by saying “In the spirit of pleasing people…” I wonder if we are not doing the same, possibly offending the Spirit of God?
James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote in his epistle “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he had faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?” James 2:14 “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” James 2:17 (NKJV). As a Bible teacher and prayer intercessor, I encourage believers everywhere to realize the difference between “doing things for God and doing things with Him”. The first is one that anyone who claims to be religious can do. The second one requires a true believer who is seeking God’s will for their lives, someone who delights in finding it, then doing it for His glory.
Using an “argument for absurdity”, can you imagine that Jesus will ever say to those who are standing before Him “I’m sorry, you just did too much! You prayed too hard, or “You displayed too much excellence in the quality of your work, therefore you cannot come into Heaven, I never knew you!” “That is absurd”, you might say. My point exactly! “Well ‘done’ thou good and faithful servant” implies we have something to do! Yes, Jesus did pay for it all, however, the Bible balances that grace by Paul saying, “If indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together! Romans 8:17b(NKJV) Often finding God’s will, and then doing it involves great sacrifice, but for His glory, and the building of the Kingdom of God!