|Photo taken December 29, 2012|
Christians do not strive to avoid sin and perform good works in order to win God's love and achieve salvation.
Rather, because we believe by faith that God first loved us and granted us salvation through his Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, we strive by grace to avoid sin and perform good works. This is the fruit of faith, a gift that comes from God alone.
As Ephesians 2:8-10 says: "By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God — not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."
When we fail to produce the fruit of faith -- as we surely will (and do, many times each day), then we seek God's forgiveness and resume the journey of faith, extending that same mercy to others who fall along the way. As St. Benedict says in his Holy Rule for monks, "It is love that impels [us] to pursue everlasting life" (5:10).
"God proves his love for us in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."