Religion Verses Grace


“For years I have worked for you like a slave and have always obeyed you. But you have never even given me a little goat, so that I could give a dinner for my friends. “


Elder brothers obey the rules in order to get what God has–not to get God Himself.

~Timothy Keller

Yesterday we talked about man’s depravity as seen in the two sons {Luke 15}. Initially, neither son loved their father nor sought his best interest. The younger was overtly selfish, “Give me my share.” The elder was just as selfish but he mask his greed. He cloaked his vanity with a fake loyalty to the father. He never insulted the father in public as did the younger but he had a deep contempt for him, more so than the prodigal. He did not leave home nor neglect his responsibilities on the estate but what were his motives? I promised you a story as a follow up, so here goes…

A classic example of good works and bad motivation is found in Peter Shaffer’s play Amadeus. The main character is a gifted musician named Salieri who prays sincerely, “LORD, make me a great composer! Let me celebrate Your glory through music–and be celebrated myself! Make me famous throughout the world! Make me immortal! After I die, let people speak my name forever with love for the music I wrote. In return I vow to give You my chastity, my industry, my deepest humility and every hour of my life. I will help my fellowman all I can. Amen and amen! Salieri then begins to make good on his vow; he abstained from any contact with women, he worked tirelessly on his music day and night, he offered to teach other musicians without charge and often helped the poor. Then Mozart appears with musical talent far above Salieri’s. Mozart had a gift and a genius that was clearly a gift from God. It was even suggested in his name–Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart–Amadeus means “Beloved by God.” Mozart was a vulgar, self -indulgent hedonist and yet his music was adored and his name lauded. Everyone was singing the praises of Mozart.

Salieri is very upset about Mozart’s success. Obviously, God had given Mozart the gifts that Salieri requested for himself so he became angry with God and said, “From now on we are enemies, You and I.” Salieri turns bitter and makes destroying Mozart his chief end but in time he is swallows by bitterness, hate and despair.

What is the moral of this story? It’s really simple: our MOTIVE makes the difference. Salieri was being good for the wrong reason. His motive was very selfish and vain. If you study his prayer, you see the vanity. He served God [so to speak] for his own personal gain which is what Satan accused Job of doing. The elder brother assumed that he had put his father in his debt. He honestly believed the father owed him and that the father had committed a huge injustice toward him. This is why he was so angry with the father. GOD OWES US NOTHING and everything we have is GRACE. We don’t serve HIM to get what He has: we serve HIM because we love HIM, even if it cost us everything including our life.

Praise the LORD for Alabama taking the lead in the fight against infanticide [abortion]. We will catch a lot of flack from the world but who cares what they think. I am proud of Arthur, the Senate and the Governor. I am also excited about Tommy Tuberville running for Senate.

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