There seems to be a slight difference but actually the difference is HUGE!
My wife, Jenn, prepared salad for me lunchtime. I can react in one of 2 ways – be grateful, sincerely thanking her for what she did. Or I can try to ‘pay back’ the kindness she’s done by preparing dinner for her tonight.
Both reactions are great. However, when we carry that over to our relationship with God, we will miss out on His definition of GRACE.
John Piper in his book “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” says,
“Every good deed we do in dependence on God does just the opposite of paying Him back; it puts us ever deeper in debt to His grace. And that is exactly where God wants us to be through all eternity.”
As we encourage people (and ourselves) to serve God out of gratitude, we need to also realize the lurking dangers, and describe how gratitude can motivate obedience without succumbing to a debtor’s mentality.
“Good deeds do not pay back grace; they borrow more grace.”
“Gratitude will always degenerate into the debtor’s ethic if it only looks back on past grace and not forward as well to future grace.”
Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun with the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal. 3:2-3)