You Are Not Merely the Sum of What You Produce!

Hebrews 13:5-6

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never fail you nor forsake you.” Hence we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper,
I will not be afraid;
what can man do to me?”

The curse of a utilitarian culture is that it defines people by what they can produce and what they earn or produce. Defining ourselves by our income is just another word for “salvation by works of the law”. That highlights the great paradox of our Catholic faith. Those who worship the god of works typically do so because they imagine they are taking an easier path by avoiding all the “negativism” of talking about sin. (“If I’m a nice person and do good things, God owes it to me to be nice to me.”) Yet in fact they are getting snookered into the hopeless task of trying to barter their Niceness, or productivity, or some other “good qualities” for God’s love. In contrast, the Church urges upon us the weird liberty of a God whose love burns just as brightly for us no matter how much of a jerk we’ve been — but we can only see that for ourselves when we frankly admit we’ve been jerks. When we lose our “good qualities”, the god of works won’t love us any more, but the God of Jesus Christ (who needs nothing from us) declares he will never, through endless eternities, love us any less, though our sins be as scarlet.

Mark Shea


Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog and regularly blogs for National Catholic Register. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.

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  • bkeebler

    It is not our desire to do good so much as it is our desire to please God that pleases Him. Then He can show us how.

    Like a child who tries to please his mother by continually doing unnecessary chores when all she really wants him to do is to love and get along with his little brother.