Should We Try and Pay God Back?

His Grace for His Glory

paying God back

“He said also to the man who had invited him, “When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”-Luke 14:12-14

“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy.-Romans 15:8-9

Should we try and pay God back for all the good he’s done for us? We should not try to pay God back because this would be an attempt to steal God’s glory.

Rather, we should now serve him because it benefits us, glorifies him, and is a proper response of thankfulness towards God’s free gift of grace given to us through Christ Jesus.

God Gives Us Grace for His Own Glory, Not So We Will Pay Him Back

Everything Jesus tells us to do he does himself. Jesus tells us we are to help the poor and those who cannot repay us because when we do something for people and they repay us, we miss out on our heavenly reward. God instructs us not to be motivated by selfish earthly rewards, but he does tell us we should be motivated by heavenly rewards that benefit us and glorify him.

Likewise, this is God’s model for saving people as well. So often we feel that since God has saved us we must spend the rest of our lives repaying him for what he has done for us through the work of Christ. But this is not what God wants. He does want us to serve him, but not in a way where we are working off the debt we owe him in attempt to “pay God back”.

pay God back BibleIn everything God does, he is seeking glory, honor, and praise for himself. Therefore, if we are to try and repay him for what he has done for us, in effect we are trying to steal his glory from him.

God is glorified through granting us grace because he knows we are “the poor, the cripples, the lame, the blind” (Luke 14:14) who cannot pay him back. Because God has granted us a free gift of grace that we cannot repay him for, he in return is blessed by his own actions. If we could somehow pay God back, we would be stealing his blessing to himself.

We are to serve God with all of our heart, for “he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:15). But we are also to remember that “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18).

Therefore, our service should not be rooted in a motivation to pay God back but to praise God for giving us the gift that we could never repay him for.

God grants us grace for the same reason he does everything that he does – for his glory. How wonderful it is to live for a God who glorifies himself while in the process blesses us.

May we spend our lives seeking to glorify him as well, not to pay God back but because we can never repay him for all that he has done for us through Jesus Christ.

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2 thoughts on “Should We Try and Pay God Back?

  1. I have a question. In Revelation, Jesus warns us about lukewarm faith, which as far as I can understand, implies that someone goes through ”religious” activities (prayer, Bible study, worship, etc.) and service in a neither hot, nor cold manner in which we serve for the sake of serving / obligation and not out of love for God. I fall asleep while reading the Bible from time to time and when I pray, my mind seems prone to wandering off to thinking of things completely unrelated to God. As a result, I was worried that I wasn’t born again in the first place. But then God pointed me to this part of the Bible: ”For by one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). I know that it is clear from this verse that once a person repents and trusts in Jesus’s sacrifice alone for their salvation, they are saved forever and the Spirit will transform them so they will desire to live a new life. But at the same time, Jesus’s warning in Matthew 7:22-23 scares me: ”[Jesus said] many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ”

    I fail constantly in my walk with God and now even my mother seems to think that the Bible has done me harm, not good. She thinks reading the Bible makes me unaware of my ”reality”. I fear that I have become another hypocrite. How do I know whether I’m born again or not, judging by what I’m like now? On the outside, I go to college to study, take care of my brother, read the Bible, think up stories in my head for my future comic projects, and so on…yet knowing that there are self-proclaimed ”Christians” who were never saved to begin with, and after reading Jonathan Edwards’s famous sermon, ”Sinners In the Hands of An Angry God”, deep inside, a large part of me fears that I may be one of those fake Christians too. Are real Christians supposed to feel on-fire-zealous for God all the time? What if I fail? Does that mean I’m not saved or is it something everyone struggles with at some point?

    • Hey Alice,

      Her are some quick points and then I will give the links to the longer answer. One sign of true salvation is guilt over sin. Therefore, since you feel guilty about your sin, this is a sign that the Holy Spirit is within you. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin (John 16:8). Likewise, the mark of a true Christian is an admission of their sinfulness. I think 1 John 1:8-10 will really help you,

      “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”

      Verse 8 says Christians will admit their sin. The fact that you are concerned about your sin is evidence of your salvation. If you never had a fear of not being a true Christian, this would be problematic. We all must go through seasons of testing ourselves to see if we really are Christians.

      With all that said, now I think you need to truly embrace 1 John 1:9. All Christians sin. Notice in Hebrews 10:14 it states we are “made perfect” while we are “being made holy.” In other translations of this verse “being made holy” is translated “sanctified.” All Christians are fully forgiven and made perfect (justified), but now we are in the process of learning to live out that perfection (sanctification). When you sin, this is not evidence that you not saved. This is evidence that you are still in the process of sanctification just like every other Christian still living. Embrace what 1 John 1:9 says. If you confess your sins (which refers to general sinfulness and not just specific sins), which you have, God forgives you of “all unrighteousness.”

      Here are a few more blogs that will help answer your questions: