Most people work to earn a living. In our capitalistic society, you gain money by providing either goods or services to someone who is willing to pay for them. It works fairly well in a free market.
Many religions - even some Christian sects - focus on works as a means of earning heaven. Were that so, one would be putting God under an obligation to pay for some service. Wait a minute!
What does God need - NEED - from us? Absolutely nothing. There is no service we can do for God which He cannot accomplish without us. There is no physical thing we can provide which He does not already own. So how do we earn our place in heaven?
Our place in heaven is a gift from Jesus. He gave it because He loves us. He satisfied our debt and freed us to live without blood-guilt.
The only thing that can keep us from this blessed gift is us. We need to accept by faith that He has paid the price. That there is nothing we can do to earn a place in heaven.
By the same token, we need to serve God - not because He needs our service, but be cause we need to serve. Only by serving His purposes can we express our gratitude for what He has done for us.
What we do is the evidence of our faith, more evidence than what we say.
My grandmother use to mis-quote this poem as follows:
"I love you, Mother, said little Nell,My memory is what I was taught all those years ago. It isn't the way the verse is written in the references, but that happens frequently with truisms. The sense is the same, even if the wording and details are different. You can imagine my surprise to learn that the second girl's name was "Fan" not "Nan" in the original.
"I love you more than tongue can tell."
Then she teased and pouted the live-long day.
Till her mother rejoiced when she went to play.
I love you, Mother," said little Nan,
"To-day I'll help you all that I can;
Busy and happy all day was she;
Helpful and happy as a child could be.
How do you think that mother guessed
Which of them really loved her best?
The point is that love and faith lead to behavior. If we love God, we behave in loving ways. If we love the world, we behave in selfish, thoughtless ways. Actions are evidence not origins.
We earn the wages of sin by our actions -- but we need only accept the gift of Eternal Life.
Give us the grace to accept Your gift of life by faith in You. Grant that we may be truly grateful for the sacrifice of Your Son and evidence the same by our daily walk. Help us to reflect the light of Your love in this world.
In Jesus' most precious name.