“Earn this.” These are Captain Miller’s last words to Private Ryan in Saving Private Ryan, one of my absolutely favorite movies. If you’ve seen the movie, you know that these 2 words are the burden that the veteran Ryan has to bear as he nears the end of his life. He wanted to know if he had lived a good life, a life that was worthy of the men who died to save him. If I were in his shoes, I know I’d never feel like I had lived up to that request. And I think we all see that Miller’s plea is justified.
Then, I think of Jesus’ death. What if He had looked at you as He breathed His last breath, and said, “Earn this”? No person could ever earn the death that He went through. That’s the most beautiful thing about salvation. We can’t earn it, and we don’t have to earn it. Could He have said this? Yes. He had every right to. But instead, He died and defeated death by resurrecting and offers us this victory out of grace and mercy. But I still find myself working for His approval, working to earn the blessings that are in my life. Humanity is programmed to work and earn the things we have. I think this goes back to God telling man after the curse that he would have to work in order to take care of himself and his family. We work for our paycheck. We work for our spouse’s and friends’ approval. We work to impress people. Even when people give us gifts, we want to think that we deserve it. Gifts aren’t earned. But we even want to earn the gifts we get. And it’s all about pride. But for salvation we have to lay down all our pride and just give up our desires to earn what God freely gives. So God’s plea isn’t “earn this”. It’s “accept this”.