St. Augustine of Hippo once said: “Deus qui creavit te sine te, non salvabit te sine te.” God who created you without you, cannot save you without you.
God created us without us. When God created us, He did not consult us. God did not ask us about who we wanted for our parents or which family we wanted to be born to.
Had He had done so, I, for my part, would have readily chosen to be born to an affluent family and socially secure parents.
As it were, I come from poor parents. Yes, God created us out of His own free volition, devoid of our participation.
Still, by virtue of God’s creation, our parents and our family – whatever the circumstances – are divine gifts. And God gave them to us for a reason.
On the other hand, when it comes to our final salvation, God cannot save us without us. To save us, God needs our participation.
No matter how much He wants to save us, if we keep saying “No” to His offer of salvation, He will respect our decision; He will respect our choice.
God tolerates our “No” and our transgressions because He wants us to give Him our free and unconditional “Yes”.
Indeed, opting for God – believing or loving God – is purely a free choice on our part.
The same is true when we seek deliverance from our problems and struggles in life.
No matter how sincere and persistent we are in storming the heavens with our prayers for help, if we don’t lift a finger, take a step and do our part to help ourselves, God’s deliverance will be farfetched. God helps those who help themselves.
The “parable of the talents” (Matthew 25:15-30) cannot be more emphatic in underscoring the necessity of human cooperation with God’s grace:
“He gave five talents of silver to one, then two to another, and one to a third, each according to his ability; and he went away.
He who received five talents went at once to do business with the money and gained another five. The one who received two did the same and gained another two.
But the one with one talent dug a hole and hid his master’s money. After a long time, the master of those servants returned and asked for a reckoning.
The one who received five talents came with another five talents, saying,
‘Lord, you entrusted me with five talents, but see I have gained five more with them.’
The master answered:
‘Very well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in a few things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.’
Then the one who had two talents came and said:
‘Lord, you entrusted me with two talents; I have two more which I gained with them’. The master said: ‘Well, good and faithful servant, since you have been faithful in little things, I will entrust you with much more. Come and share the joy of your master.’
Finally, the one who had received one talent came and said:
‘Master, I know that you are an exacting man. You reap what you have not sown and gather what you have not invested. I was afraid, so I hid your money in the ground. Here, take what is yours.’
But his master replied:
‘Wicked and worthless servant...Therefore, take the talent from him, and give it to the one who has ten...As for that useless servant, throw him out into the dark where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’.”
The talents may be interpreted as the free grace given to us by God, and the additional talents gained are the fruits of our response to God’s grace.
If God did not want us to cooperate with His grace, why then did He cast out the last servant who had been entrusted with one talent to the darkness?
The reason for this is because God will only save us with our cooperation. He will give us His grace to be saved but we must cooperate with His saving grace.
Peace ye, indeed God’s grace is founded on human cooperation. As God wants our free and unconditional “Yes” to His offer of salvation, He also wants us to walk our talk.