No Extra Credit Needed

Wednesday, January 8, 2014
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Listen while you read: "Search Me, O God"1 (Lyrics)

"Is there anything I can do for extra credit?"

I considered the source and the question, one that I had been asked quite a few times. Occasionally, I consent, but most of the time, I utter a simple "No." What I really want to say is, "If you would do well on the work I assign, you wouldn't need any extra credit."

My schema is such that if students try, they will normally pass. Low test scores are raised by homework and class participation grades. And of course, my grace will dispose of a few low marks. Rarely is extra credit needed when a student is working vigorously … but those asking, normally aren't.

I've discovered the same in my spiritual journey. Though our spiritual rewards differ, God doesn't assign extra credit, because we don't deserve any. Every grade (blessing) that He dispenses proceeds from His grace, not our merit. Referencing a servant's perspective, Jesus said of obedience:

Luke 17:10 – In the same way, when you obey me you should say, "We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty." (NLT)

If I work for God with a slothful attitude, I've missed the purpose of the relationship. If I earn my spiritual grades just to make heaven, I've misunderstood my purpose. And if I'm presently neglecting God while hoping for extra credit to pass the final accounting, I'll be sorely disappointed. God created us for interaction with Him … not forced, but enjoyable. He endowed us with special abilities engineered to be used at a particular time in the world. There's never been another person like you, and no one can complete what God covets you to do at this particular historical moment. Don't look for extra credit; just diligently enjoy doing what God has given you to accomplish. Let us seize every opportunity.

Prayer: Everlasting God, may we be content to do our God-given duty of loving You supremely and others sacrificially. Amen.

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About the author:

Martin Wiles <>
Greenwood, South Carolina, USA

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Praise God for HIS grace that offers even that extra learning opportunity.

    Good insight Martin. Keep writing.

    Amen, but let us not forget our reward in heaven, according to our actions/deeds, either.

    Thank you for shared wisdom. I probably will never meet you. The wisdom shared on this webpage has been of immeasurable value to me personally. We are one in the spirit. Thanks a bunch.

    Wonderful. I’m always amazed at how well you put things Martin. It seems so clear, so simple, and almost always matches my own morning prayers!
    What a wonderful God we serve.

    Many thanks for your words of encouragement as I struggle to bring to fruition a Eulogy for a dear friend and retired teacher! I found your message about teaching so true both in working with students and in my own life experience.
    Have a great day and may God bless you!

    Mr. Wiles,
    It seems to me when you say “No” to extra credit, you are discouraging attempts at vigorous work. What you mean to say, I think, is work vigorously NOW rather than later… which is good advice. However, it would be an act of grace to forgive their timing and reward the attempt. Give them extra credit.

    I have 14 grandchildren-from 10-22 years old. All are regularly on the honor roll and two in college had 4.0 last semester. However, I totally disagree with your blanket assumption that asking for extra credit means a lack of preparation. I have seen some of these kids study so diligently and still fail the test. I am glad none of them have you for a teacher. I find your remarks very self righteous and lacking in compassion for your students.

    Many blessings, Martin.

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