God saved you by his grace when you first believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. [Ephesians 2:8 (NLT)]

viceroy butterflyUnlike the bruised and broken butterflies in yesterday’s devotion, this one looked perfect as it lay on the trail. When we approached, the Viceroy fluttered its wings but only managed to skim a few inches across the gravel. As intact as it looked, one wing was entirely useless. To protect it from walkers’ feet and speeding bicycles, we managed to get the creature off the trail into the grass. Unfortunately, without some sort of butterfly super-glue to reattach the loose wing, while we could help, we couldn’t save it.

Although it was easy to see that saving the butterfly was not within our purview, I’m not sure we understand that about our friends and loved ones. As much as we might want to, we can’t save the people around us. We can’t keep Terry from gambling, stop Mary from dating abusive men, make John quit drinking, or salvage Joan’s failing marriage. Seeing their potential and possibility, we want their lives to be better; they, however, are not our repair projects and their transformation is not our job. We can’t fix our loved ones, change their lives or save them from their own bad decisions. What we want for others is meaningless unless they want it for themselves. We can love them, share God’s word, help to bear their burdens, refuse to enable their destructive choices, and counsel, encourage and pray for them. What we can’t do is save them.

Just as we can’t save the addict from his addiction or the fool from his decisions, we can’t save non-believers from their non-belief. When we share the gospel message, we can impart knowledge but we can’t make people think; we can show people the truth, but we can’t make them believe. Just as we can lead a horse to water but can’t make it drink, we can lead people to Jesus but can’t make them drink of His living water. We can give our testimony, but it is God who opens their hearts. We can sow the seed (and even water and fertilize it) but it is up to that seed and God as to whether or not it will sprout. Let us remember that Jesus will save anyone but not everyone will choose to be saved. Unfortunately, many will reject His offer of salvation. We can witness and pray for their salvation but we can’t save them. We aren’t their savior—Jesus Christ is! In actuality, He’s already done the saving; it’s just up to people to receive His gift of grace.

You will find all true theology summed up in these two short sentences: Salvation is all of the grace of God. Damnation is all of the will of man. [Charles Spurgeon]

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. … And anyone who believes in God’s Son has eternal life. Anyone who doesn’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life but remains under God’s angry judgment. [John 3:16-17, 36 (NLT)]

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