But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
— Titus 3:4–7
I am a blessed man. Having accomplished almost every goal I have ever had, I am a published songwriter being recorded by some of Nashville’s best in the field of southern gospel. My work as a bassist is found on multiple recordings in gospel and country music. I have provided backup vocals for many lesser-known artists and had my works reviewed by such musical greats as Barbara Mandrell. I have shared the stage with music legends such as J.D. Summers and traveled many miles with my family performing before audiences, large and small. I hold degrees in biblical studies and have been certified in several other professional fields, yet no one truly knows me.
Then what good are the accolades men might bestow on me? The record albums I could hang from my wall, the number of diplomas decorating my office, or the number of letters appearing at the end of my name? Do these things earn favor with God? Can they add an extra minute to my life or inch me one step closer to entering heaven’s gates than the needy men and women I often see panhandling on busy city street corners? No, not at all. I have little doubt a good number of those wearisome faces and raggedly clothed bodies will receive God’s welcome too, and perhaps be moved to the front of the line ahead of me on that day.
So then, what have I profited from these accomplishments? Or as Jesus would ask:
“For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?”
— Mark 8:36
As fairly and accurately explained by Pastor David Griffin and so many ministers who have lived and proclaimed the gospel before him. My achievements, regardless of how meritorious. My efforts, regardless of how well meaning. My accomplishments, whether acted out in the human interest, or performed in religious servitude with the name of Jesus attached to them will not impress God and will not cause him to one day say to me:
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’
— Matthew 25:21
Having come to faith in Christ, I realized that all my crowns, no matter how jeweled I think them to be or how tarnished they actually are, will be lain at his feet in recognition that it was his works, his achievements, his accomplishments, his life for my life that has opened heavens gates, allowing sinners such as me to pass. And by faith alone in his finished work on the cross, that Jesus died in my place and was resurrected the third day, I have passed from death to life and will reign with him forever. You can too.