A little parable...
Spurgeon, "IMPORTANCE OF SMALL THINGS IN RELIGION"
There was a rich man who had a generous heart, and once upon
a time he resolved to give a large estate to a poor neighbor,
so he sent for him, and said, "My friend, I am willing to give
you a large estate for nothing."
The poor man felt grateful and retired home, but as he lay in his
bed he thought, "I should like that estate, but I should not like
to be beholden to anybody for it; I think I will pay for it."
So he set out the next morning with a heavy bag on his back,
and when he came to the rich man's door and the friend came out,
he said, "Sir, I value your estate very highly; you promised to
let me have it for nothing, but I do not want to be obliged to
you, so I have brought a bag all full of gold to buy it with."
The rich man said, "I never offered to sell it to you; I said
I would give it to you; but come, let us look at your bag of
GOLD." So the poor man opened wide the mouth of the sack; he
blushed and stammered, and said, "Oh sir, be not angry with me;
now that I come to look at it; it is nothing but a bag of SILVER."
The friend said, "Look at it again." He looked again and
blushed, and cried, "Let not my lord be angry, but I find
it is nothing but a bag of COPPER."
"Look once more," said he. He looked once more into it, and he
fell down on his knees, and said, "Forgive me, forgive me; I find,
sir, it is a bag of filth. You see I have brought you a bag of
FILTH with which to buy your rich estate."
You know the meaning of that parable, do you not?
You have brought to God what you thought were good works,
golden works; look at them you will see them pale before you,
and you will say, "My Lord, they are not so good as I thought
they were, they are only silver works after all." Look at them
again, and they will become dirty, brown, copper works.
"Oh!" you say, "they are not worth more than a farthing now."
Look again, and you will see that your prayers, your tears,
your good works, are nothing better than filth after all.
They are only another form of sin, another shape of iniquity.