It is true, true, true that we are saved by grace not by works – but that is not the whole story.
Eph. 2.8-9 says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
We usually stop the quote there, but the next verse is important too:
10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.
Take Peter for example. Jesus called him to be a disciple while he was (in his own estimation, see Lk. 5.8) a “sinful” man. Peter followed Jesus for three years. Peter healed people, cast out demons, walked on water. Then at the Last Supper, Jesus went around washing everyone’s feet. (John 13) When he got to Peter, Peter refused, telling Jesus, “you will never wash my feet.” To which Jesus replied, “If I don’t wash your feet, you have no part in me.”
We are saved by grace, but to remain with Jesus, we have to give in to what he requires of us. Which will make us uncomfortable. Press us. Kill our pride. Expose our vanities, our quirks, all the things we want to hide. Pretty much the way any intimate, loving relationship will. Being in relationship with Jesus will change us. Radically.
We all get like Peter sometimes. We all say to Jesus, you can’t have this, you are not washing that – I am too proud (or pseudo-humble, same thing) to let you do that. Whatever “that” is for you, the sooner you give in, the better. A lot better.
Whatever Jesus asks for – say yes. And I do mean what he personally asks you for – not what someone presuming to speak in his name asks for or thinks you should do. Jesus will make it clear to you directly. He may use others to help, but he will speak directly to you. When in doubt, ask for clarification. Because God speaks. Listen. Do what God says.