Job 41:11, “Who has first given to Me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine.”
Does the title of this article offend you? Good. Now I have your attention. I’m not a pastor yet, but in my studies and ministry training I’ve led several people to faith, encouraged brothers and sisters in the faith, and have served others in service to Christ. Does God owe me for my efforts? Of course not! Although He is pleased when we live faithfully, He certainly doesn’t owe us anything. As humans, we are obsessed with this idea that we always have to do something in order to earn the things we receive. Unfortunately, this seeps into our faith as well. In the past, it has led to the false belief that we are saved by good works, such as in Mormonism where one must achieve perfect holiness in order to be saved, and even mainline Christian faiths that believe one must “choose” or “accept” Jesus into one’s heart.
God asks Job the rhetorical question, “Who has given to Me, that I should repay him?” We have no power to give God anything, even our “decision” to “accept Him into our heart.” Sometimes we even dare to think God owes us when we endure suffering. After we endure through a hardship, we think, “Okay God, I survived. Where’s my reward?” Don’t be such a fool! God owes you nothing, even for your faithfulness. When the Scriptures speak of our reward (e.g. Luke 6:23), they are not speaking of earthly rewards but heavenly rewards we receive because of our faith, which was gifted to us (Ephesians 2:8-9), not because of any works we’ve done.
So if we can’t give God anything, what’s the point of doing anything? Being servants of God, it is true that we serve Him, but not in the way we think. We are not serving Him by bringing things to Him. Rather, we are serving Him by being of service to others (i.e. loving our neighbour). In describing the servant, Jesus said, “So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty'” (Luke 17:10). As God’s servants, we humbly recognise our unworthiness before Him, yet He deems us worthy on the basis of Christ who calls us to love our neighbour. We do good works for our neighbour—not for God—simply because it’s our duty.
God doesn’t owe us anything, but we do owe Him everything. And I mean everything in every sense of the word. We owe Him our very lives and souls. Why? Because He died for us on the cross as the incarnate Christ. He did this not because we deserve it or because He owes us, but simply because He loves us. It may sound too simple, but it really is that simple. We can never repay this debt, not matter what we do. We thank and praise Him as a response not because He needs to be reminded that He’s holy, righteous, Almighty, good, gracious, and merciful, but as a reminder to ourselves of His character and what He’s done for us. In response to this worship, we baptise the nations and teach them the commands of Christ, fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20).