Today’s Scripture: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

You’re probably asking yourself, “What in the world is a gooney bird?” It turns out that a gooney bird is another name for an albatross. The albatross is a family of large seabirds in the North Pacific and Southern oceans. They have the largest wingspan of any living bird. Another definition of the word “albatross” is something burdensome that impedes action or progress. That sounds to me like the perfect way to define people who are messing up the gospel or any foolish, awkward thing that hinders both the spread of the gospel and Christians’ service to the Lord.

It would be a foolish thing for a husband to court his wife, and be kind, gracious, and loving throughout the engagement period, but as soon as they are married turn to his wife and demand, “Now dear, I want dinner ready at 6:47 PM and not a second later. I want the house to be perfectly clean and quiet. I expect you to be bright and cheerful, and when we have kids for them to be clean, quiet, and ready to welcome me home when I get off work. If it’s not that way, it’s as if we never got married.” We can all agree that this situation wouldn’t work. It isn’t a viable scenario in our marriages, so how do we expect it to work when we make salvation like this?

A misunderstanding of God’s grace given at salvation will make our life miserable. God’s grace does work, but when we change the message of the gospel from a free gift to something that we must live up to, we will fail every time.

People try to present the gospel as a gift of God through faith, but then add on the requirement that we must serve Him, otherwise, we didn’t really accept the gift. This is putting an awkward burden in the way of the gospel. This requirement to live up to certain standards is no different whether we say someone must do them to get eternal life (works for salvation) or say if someone doesn’t have them, they aren’t saved (works after salvation).

When we trust Christ as our savior, we become the bride of Christ. When we get saved, He doesn’t demand our service in exchange for His love. As we saw earlier, that won’t work. Our works should be the evidence of our love for Him. He wants us to show our love for Him through our works. Our service isn’t automatic. If it was, there would be no need to command us how to live once we were saved-it would just happen. Also, if our service was required, salvation could not be called a gift. We need to be careful when we present the gospel that we don’t combine the gospel with our service to our Savior. Salvation is offered freely to “whosoever believeth on him.” Let’s make sure we present the gospel clearly to the lost and watch out for the gooney bird.

Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.