Years ago, we lived in Missouri and our neighbor, Trudy, had a cat that liked to regularly deposit a dead mouse at her back door. Typically Trudy tossed the mouse in the trash before anyone else saw it, but one morning I stopped by early, and there it was! Yuck!
Not being a cat-person, and revealing my ignorance of cat behavior, I asked Trudy what that was all about and Trudy explained, “She thinks she’s giving me a present. It’s what cats do.”
Right! Just what every woman wants: a dead, somewhat bloody, mangled mouse dropped on the doorstep first thing in the morning. Clearly the cat didn’t understand Trudy. And, I didn’t understand the cat.
But think about it, that cat worked hard for that mouse. This was a house cat for the most part, so to get to the field, she had to get out of the house. Then she had to cross a storm run-off ditch to get to the field. Then, she had to find the mouse in a very large field. And, she had to catch him. Her gift shopping had to be done quickly. Even with all the hard work and effort, her gift went straight to the trash.
I think that is exactly how God sees our efforts to please him if we are not saved. No matter how hard we work to please God, no matter how many gifts of generosity, service, philanthropy, and kindness to others we do, each one is like laying a dead mouse at God’s feet and saying, “Here’s another present!”
It’s just all dead mice.
God is not impressed with any work that we do to earn his favor, or our salvation. He doesn’t find it pleasing. He tells us this in Romans 8:8 “Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
To please God, we must belong to God. We must have faith in the God who saves and in the instrument of that salvation: God’s one and only Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
Sometimes I think we get the cart before the horse, and we try to show God that we are worthy of salvation, so we bring him gifts… dead mice. Instead, we need to come to him for salvation, believe what He says, and receive the salvation that he offers.
Then, we do have to get to work! He has ordained works for us to do, works that prove our faith, not earn our faith. It must be in that order. When we work for God because of our faith, he not only finds our gifts acceptable, but he rewards them.
One day, we will have the privilege of giving gifts to Jesus. We will not give him dead mice; we will lay our crowns at his feet.