Driving home today I was listening to Hank Hanegraaff, the bible answer man. In response to a question about tithing he quoted Randy Alcorn who said “tithing may well be regarded as the training wheels of giving”.  Having recently removed three sets of training wheels from bikes in our house this image of training wheels has stuck in my mind (to clarify any misconceptions I removed mine many years ago). This idea of spiritual training wheels puts a picture to the idea of the dynamic relationship between works and faith and connects these two concepts.

training wheels

I put training wheels on my girls bikes so that they can learn how to properly ride a two-wheel bike. With the training wheels they are not riding a two-wheeler and if you remove them they can’t ride it but those training wheels are a stepping stone towards becoming two-wheel riders. The training wheels give them a chance to learn what it takes to ride a big girl bike without falling. It is in that sense that we must have training wheels to learn what it means to be Christian. Keeping traditions and rules does not make us Christian and certainly does not save us however they can and do give us guiding principles and ways of loving God and loving our neighbors.  “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. ” (Romans 3.28). One is not justified by anything they do yet scripture clearly stats that we do have a role in our spirituality. “Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.”(1 Peter 2.2). See also James 2.18-19 “But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”  Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” Our spiritual training wheels help us to balance on our new Christian life. Our spiritual milk helps us to hear and know the Shepherds voice and to resist the devil so he will flee.

Yes we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone but God does not leave us to our own understanding after that. We become part of a functioning body. A heart that does not pump blood causes the body to die. Hands that do not move prevent the body from interacting with the world. A faith that does not have deeds is dead! Training wheels help us rid ourselves “of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind”. They keep us from falling over so we can “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22.37-38)