Receive and reciprocate. Who would have thought that two little instructions could be so hard to keep? They seem simple enough, after all. And who, in his or her right mind, willingly turns away from grace?
But to assume that we are normally functioning in our right minds (Speaking at least for myself!) may be more of a stretch than we once thought. Judging by the frequency with which I turn my proverbial nose up at the offer of grace, I might just be insane. And I don’t think for a second that I’m alone.
For the past seven years, I have paid my bills almost exclusively from an income “earned” by waiting tables. I put “earned” in quotation marks because when you work for tips, you realize that you rarely get what you deserve. I have had weeks where I came home every night exhausted from working so hard and wound up with half the money that I might get on a week when just the right tables show up in my section. Over the years I have found that I can treat some people like they were royalty and wind up with a ten percent tip. Another table I can ignore almost completely and wind up with a healthy twenty percent.
Unpredictability and the seeming randomness of provision is just something you take for granted when you depend on gratuity (A more economically descriptive word that really means “grace,” after all!).
But the funny thing about working for grace is that during seasons of more abundant provision, I tend to forget all I know to be true. I convince myself that I have earned grace. When I start to use words like “deserve,” “respect,” “earn,” and “work” to describe the provision of God for my life, I know that something is off-kilter.
Receive. That instruction, in and of itself is among the greatest challenges of the Christian life. We want to earn the favor of God, just as we want to earn our own living and carve out our own identities through our families, communities, hobbies, and our careers.
But grace is only available for those who are truly at their wits’ end. Grace is for people who have exhausted their own resources and come to the inevitable conclusion that it is only via the generosity of God that we live and move and have our being.
Do you have a hard time remembering the offer of grace that is available for you in the person of Jesus?
What would your life look like if you were more focused on what God has given you than on what you have earned?
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