Protestantism can be obsessed with this idea that they’re called to do nothing to complete the work of Christ. By so doing, however, they really go a long way in gutting the whole purpose and meaning of the gospel. They believe it to be arrogant to think we can contribute anything to our salvation, but, while we contribute nothing in the sense that we contribute nothing to anything, including our very existence since everything comes from God, He nonetheless has set things up so that our wills are actually the prize, so to speak, and our wills are inextricably bound up with what we do.
So the Reformed theology that insists on repeating the mantra, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe”, usually with an emphasis on our complete worthlessness, actually opposes the will of God, misses the mark regarding His nature, regarding His will for and attitude towards man; it misunderstands man’s abilities and role, and borders on priggishness. We do owe everything to God and His Son but He nonetheless covets our participation in accomplishing His ends for us. It’s a package deal, a work of His that we also cooperate in. He throws the life preserver, without which we drown, but we must nonetheless grab it. The Church teaches:
1993 Justification establishes cooperation between God’s grace and man’s freedom. On man’s part it is expressed by the assent of faith to the Word of God, which invites him to conversion, and in the cooperation of charity with the prompting of the Holy Spirit who precedes and preserves his assent:
When God touches man’s heart through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, man himself is not inactive while receiving that inspiration, since he could reject it; and yet, without God’s grace, he cannot by his own free will move himself toward justice in God’s sight.42
The whole thing is a struggle of the will-throughout our lives-and our justice or righteousness is the goal. Read the Parable of the Talents to see how this dynamic plays out. It’s about what we do with what we’re given, with more demanded of those who’re given more (Luke 12:48). This begins with our response of faith, but only begins there; it’s a continuous walk, a continuous relationship, with us remaining in Christ and He in us, and with our justice actually growing, grace leading to more grace as we respond, investing our talents, obeying God’s will for us as we continue walking with and heeding Him.
Proper motivation for our wills is realized as we come to love God and neighbor, this love, itself, being a gift of grace. Love defines man’s justice/holiness/righteousness more exhaustively than any other single virtue. And love acts by its nature. And this is why Scripture can tell us that we’ll be judged on what we do “for the least of these” in Matt 25:31-46, and the Catechism can teach, quoting St John of the Cross, that “At the evening of life we shall be judged on our love.” Not on our faith alone certainly. In fact faith, alone, is inadequate as Paul points out in 1 Cor 13 and James points out in Chap 2 of his letter. “The only thing that counts is faith working through love.” Gal 5:6