Put the Pliers Down!

I live on the plains of the Midwest…in hard-working territory. I’m surrounded by determined men and women who can fix just about anything with just a few beads of sweat and a pair of pliers.

During my junior year in college, I went to a friend’s house for Christmas break to hunt geese. Jack’s dad, Bob, was a rancher in western Nebraska. Bob was tougher than any bull on his land. When I shook his hand, his fingers were chapped, swollen, and leathery from forty years of tightening bolts on tractors in negative wind-chill weather. He wore a pair of Wrangler jeans, steel-toed work boots, and a flannel shirt that smelled like hydraulic fluid. He looked like the Marlboro Man minus the smoke.

Later, as Jack and I were scanning the skies for incoming geese, I told him that I admired his dad’s ranch. I said, “Obviously your dad’s a hard worker.”

Jack chuckled and said, “Yeah, as long as his pliers are hanging from his hip, there’s nothing he can’t fix.”

Many men and women have Bob’s dogged determination to tackle whatever life throws at them. In almost every context in life, it serves them well. But a stubborn resolve to fix what is broken can stand in the way of setting things right with God. A set of pliers and a few beads of sweat cannot fix what sin has messed up between God and us.

This is the rock in the road that many get-’er-done men and women stub their toes on. Yet, to receive the acceptance of God, we must lay down our tools and simply put our faith in Jesus. We must trust in the idea that Jesus did the work for us. All of it!

This is precisely what the Apostle Paul described when he wrote: “And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. (Romans 4:5, Italics mine)”

Faith, not our best efforts, sets us right with God. In hard-working America, this is often the greatest barrier to faith.

I’m curious: Do you struggle with this put-your-pliers-down approach to salvation? Is it hard for you to receive something you didn’t earn, work for, or fix for yourself?

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