When my kids were 18 months, 3, and 4 years old, my husband was trying to get their help on some chores. They weren’t excited, so he declared, “I’ll give you three Super Helper Points!” The kids raced to pitch in. After all, they were earning Super. Helper. Points.
In the aftermath of that off-the-cuff-no-actual-plan-in-mind remark, we had to scramble to figure out exactly what Super Helper Points were—and what the reward would be. (At that age, the reward was often ice cream.) After that, we started dishing out Super Helper Points like Monopoly money. Charts were made, progress tracked, ice cream purchased.
Sometimes it’s easy to think that good things from God work like Super Helper Points. If I follow the rules, God should reward me. If I’m helpful at church, I won’t have budget problems. If I work hard, I should get the promotion. Ultimately, if I was a good person, then I should get into heaven.
That is not at all how God works. It’s not at all about what we’ve earned. Instead, “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
It’s not at all about if we’ve been a super helper; it’s only about how Jesus helped us. By dying on the cross to pay for our sins, he earned heaven for us. It’s a gift, and we can’t boast.
But I still hope there’s ice cream.