What are my good deeds worth?

tallyThere’s a story about an old man who died and met St. Peter at the gates of heaven.

Peter explained, “You’re going to need 100 points to get in. Tell me what good things you’ve done in your life, and I’ll tell you how many points it was worth.”

The man said, “I was married to the same woman for 50 years and was a great husband.”

Peter replied, “Great. That’s three points.”

“Three points!?” the man replied. “Well, I went to church every time the doors were opened and gave generously.”

Peter said, “Good work. That’s three more points.”

The man started to get nervous, so he tried to think of what else he had done. “I went on mission trips every year and preached the gospel to thousands!”

Peter said, “OK. I think that’s worth a point.”

The man was panicked—just one point? The math wasn’t working out. There was no way he could reach 100 points. He thought and thought of all the good that he had done and finally cried out in terror, “At this rate, the only way I’ll get in is by the grace of God.”

Peter smiled and said, “Come on in. Now you get it.”

We don’t do good deeds to bribe God with our goodness. We don’t do good deeds to undo our previous bad deeds. We don’t do good deeds to impress people around us. We do good deeds as our way of saying, “Thank you, thank you, thank you for the grace that saved me! I want to share it with the world!”

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