The Wonder Of Grace

Michael Anthony delivers the anonymous benefactor's check on "The Millionaire"

Michael Anthony delivers the anonymous benefactor’s check on “The Millionaire”


I think grace is hard for Americans to comprehend. Our Constitution tells us we have certain unalienable rights, and over time, this has morphed into what we see today–entitlement. I’ve written about that infectious attitude in the past (see “Our Just Deserts” and “How Deserving Are We?“), so I won’t cover that ground again other than to reiterate, it’s hard for people who believe they deserve something to recognize when they’ve been given a free gift they could never earn.

When I was growing up there was a TV program called The Millionaire. This, when a million dollars was what a billion dollars is today. Anyway, the premise of the show was that this incredibly wealthy man would choose someone to give a million dollars to, anonymously, with only the caveat that the recipient couldn’t tell anyone how he came by the money. As I recall, none of those people said, At last—I deserve this money and it’s about time it came my way. Entitlement hadn’t caught hold yet, and apparently it didn’t cross the mind of the writer to have a character respond with such hubris.

I point this out because I believe entitlement is a barrier to the wonder of grace.

When we see ourselves as undeserving, then the smallest good thing is a beautiful gift. But if we see ourselves as deserving, then the smallest unmet expectation is a blow.

Might this steady diet of “you deserve . . .” explain why more and more people seem angry? Whether it’s a gunman shooting children in a school or a former policeman gunning down those on his revenge hit list, unsatisfied people are taking things into their own hands.

But what if we actually came to the realization that we don’t deserve anything? After all, what qualities do we have that mean we should get the best, be treated with respect, win the prize, be paid the most, get promoted to the top? We can’t all be number one. We can’t all get our way. We can’t all win, no matter what the self-help gurus and child psychologists say.

Maybe it’s time we told the truth instead. God tells us we in fact do not merit His favor, deserve a place in Heaven, or are entitled to right standing before Him. Nor can we earn any of that.

If we grasped that last fact, virtually every other religion besides Christianity would crumble because they are all built upon working, earning, doing what needs to be done to achieve in the spiritual realm. Not possible, God says.

For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

But then God turns around and gives us what we cannot earn.

Wow!

In one instant we go from being spiritually bereft to being spiritual millionaires. Who can grasp the glory of that transformation? It’s the leper made clean, the blind beggar receiving sight, the immoral woman given Living Water. Changed completely and changed forever. And there’s no reason other than that God loves.

This post first appeared here in February 2013.

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Published in: on April 12, 2016 at 5:44 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. Love this, Becky. I think you’re onto something with grace versus entitlement. Unmerited favor has a way of making you grateful for everything, while entitlement makes you think you’re not getting yours. We’re surprisingly unhappy in the Western world, considering how much comfort we have, and I often think it has a whole lot to do with our changed focused over the past 50 years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amen! I used to think every American should live in another country for a year so we’d appreciate what we have. But I think the problem is deeper. In many ways, I think the American culture these past 50 or so years has fed the pride of our sin nature. So nothing, even for the rich and famous, is ever enough. Not enough attention, not enough privacy, not enough accolades, not enough recognition, not enough money, not enough glitz, not enough bling, not enough or whatever drives a person’s ego.

      And I agree, IB, that the entitlement attitude feeds our dissatisfaction and anger. Our cry seems to be, Things ought not to be this way! And somebody should make it right or pay for the mess we’re in!

      We’re not looking at our own hearts or our own responsibility. And horrors if someone actually says we sin!

      I have to laugh because my cell phone has this vocal capacity so when I text I can say what I want and the phone types it in. Except, apparently the word “sin” is barely in its vocabulary. I get all kinds of things in place of the word sin. I take it as an indication that our culture no longer talks about sin much. And maybe I don’t either.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  2. To the above-sin is definitely missing the mark. Religions use many different words for this. Enjoyed your post, Rebecca.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed, maryrensberry.

      Thanks for your input and feedback. It’s good to know what others think about the subject.

      Becky

      Like


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