The Academy Award- winning World War II movie Saving Private Ryan tells the story of a young soldier (Private Ryan) whose brothers have been killed in battle. To spare his family the agony of losing all of their sons, the government orchestrates a rescue mission to save him and send him home. The rescue team is led by a no-nonsense army captain who seems to believe that the whole thing is a bad idea.
In the film’s final scene, the captain is fatally wounded while fulfilling his mission. With his dying words, he looks the soldier in the eyes and says, “Earn this! Earn it.” The film flashes forward many decades, and we see Private Ryan as an old man standing at the grave of that captain. You can tell he has been haunted by those words and trying to “earn it” all his life, but he never knows for sure if he has measured up. He pleads with the grave, seeking approval, but he finds none.
Many people believe they have put their faith in Jesus, but they also believe they have to earn what he did for them on the cross. Here’s the good news: when Jesus was hanging on that cross, dying to save you, he did not use his dying words to say, “Earn this.” Do you know what he said instead? He said, “It is finished!”
Did you catch that? It is finished. That means done, complete, sealed, finished! That’s God’s gift of grace. Jesus has done all the work already. You couldn’t possibly earn it even if you tried with everything you had, and God never expected you to.
The Bible says that if you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved (Rom. 10:9). It’s not a duty for you to earn; it’s a gift for you to receive by faith. Reach out to your Savior and love God with your whole heart, mind, soul, and strength. He’s already done all the work, and he did it out of love for you. It is finished.
This story was originally published in my book The Seven Laws of Love: Essential Principles for Building Stronger Relationships.
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