Vitavi denique culpam, non laudem merui, wrote the poet Horace. I do not deserve to be praised just because I have avoided committing a mistake or have simply done what is expected of me.
Doing the good or right thing that is expected of me is not something I owe God to merit His love. He has loved me without me doing anything yet. I do good because it is what keeps me alive. I eat when I am hungry. I drink when I am thirsty. I do good because I am a human being.
On judgement day, I will merit eternal life not because I have avoided sin and obeyed all the commandments. God will welcome me into His kingdom for the good things I have done beyond that which is expected of me. I am expected not to harm others. But God will reward me for taking in the homeless even when this is not expected of me. I not steal nor take the food that belongs others. But God will reward me for feeding the hungry even when this is not my responsibility. I am expected to obey laws so that I do not end up in prison. I am expected to live a healthy life to avoid sickness. But God will reward me not so much for keeping healthy but for visiting those who are imprisoned and those who are sick.
The commandments are but the minimum expected of me. The beatitudes are what a true follower of Christ should strive for, loving and giving without counting the cost nor wanting to take a rest nor seeking for a reward.
The salvation of the just comes from the Lord.
~ Psalm 37
Jesus said to the Apostles:
“Who among you would say to your servant
who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field,
‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’?
Would he not rather say to him,
‘Prepare something for me to eat.
Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink.
You may eat and drink when I am finished’?
Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded, say,
‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.’”