Possibly the some of the greatest and most freeing news ever in the entire world is that Jesus paid the penalty for our actions in full... and there is nothing we have to do to earn this payment.
You can work and work and work all your life to try and "repay" Jesus back, but it would never be enough.
You can go to all the services, give a 5 every time you see a homeless person, tithe 15% regularly, know all the songs (both hymns and contemporary), read all the books, get all the degrees, and give every single shirt you have to someone who is without.
And it would still not be enough.
While that can be difficult to grasp to some (especially new believers), it is so thrilling when we realize that we don't have to try and earn it. We can just enjoy this free gift God has given us.
And while this is so true and can never be stressed enough, sadly there has been (in my opinion) a backwards thinking that pairs right along with it:
That we don't have to work at anything in our Spiritual Life.
There's this myth going around that we don't have to work on our prayer life. We don't have to work on being more frugal. We don't need to fast (that's sooo Old Testament). We don't have to seek time alone with God.
And if we aren't good at any of these (what the Church has called for hundreds of years) Spiritual Disciplines, then that's okay because our debt is paid in full!
But there is nothing wrong with growth? And growth isn't always easy.
Tending a garden can be difficult work. Knowing when and how much to water, tilling and raking, pruning and keep animals away, keeping aware of the weather, etc.
Someone can give you all the free plants in the world, and they can even plant them for you for free. But it will take work to make them grow.
When we are saved and we accept this free gift that God has given us, that is not the end of our journey but merely the beginning. We must continue to push and grow closer towards God. And that growth comes with a price and hardship.
You might have to get up an extra 30 minutes to make sure you get your time with God. You might need to make yourself listen to Christian radio to get some of these damaging and sinful thoughts out of your head. You might need to fast every once and a while. You might need to pay your tithe at the first of the month to make sure you do. You might need to put ALL technology away to sincerely pray to God.
Yeah, it might be hard at first to make these changes.
But so is running. And then you start, and keep going, and pretty soon you are one of those weird people who actually enjoy running and can't get enough running in. They are always looking for an opportunity to run. Running has become one of their key attributes and they HAVE to do it. It's addictive.
Now, replace "running" with "praying" or any other discipline.
Hard work and discipline is different than trying to "pay back."