"Give of your best to master, give of the strength of your youth" was the line of the hymn I sang as a kid. I don’t doubt the words of that hymn that continue, "Jesus has set the example, dauntless was he young and brave."
While I never felt very brave or dauntless in my service to God, I did try to give God the best of my youth. Still, I knew it was not by doing my best that I was saved.
Looking back, what I thought was my best now seems feeble. I recently went through a file of sermons I wrote when I was in my 20s. Can you guess my overwhelming emotion as I read through them?
Embarrassment. I pitched them all.
There is nothing wrong with working as unto the Lord. He gives us the strength to do that. But our best is not good enough. It never has been nor ever will be. "It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!" Ephesians 2:5 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done.
You are welcome to make a list of the good things you have done and hand it to St. Peter as you stand at the Pearly Gates. But there they take neither paper nor plastic. All humankind will stand naked before the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. We will be saved by the mercy and grace of God or not at all!