The Problem With Grace
By: Kristen L. McNulty
We hear a lot of talk about God's grace. so today I want to take a look at what grace actually is and how it is relevant to us.
So what exactly is grace? Well most of us have heard the expression grace is God's Riches At Christ's Expenses, but the word grace translated from the Greek word 'caris' means: "a free gift to someone who is undeserving."
At first glance, that definition of the word scares many of us because doesn't it really put us in our place? A free gift to someone who is undeserving. It's no wonder why we have such a hard time accepting God's grace- it goes against many of the principles by which we live our lives.
The first part of the definition "a free gift" causes us to put our backs up doesn't it? Because really, in our world everything seems to have a catch. When someone calls telling us we won a free vacuum, alarm bells go off. When we pick up the phone and hear the air horn go off and someone telling us we won a free cruise, we hang up the phone. Haven't we all heard and used the saying 'nothing is free in life'? So when we are told that God is offering a free gift of salvation through grace, it's no wonder why we have a hard time accepting it. In fact isn't our first instinct that there must be a catch?
The second problem we have with grace comes from the last part of the definition: "someone who is undeserving." That line is completely opposite from everything we've learned from pre-school on. You deserved this mark. You've earned this promotion. You are deserving of a vacation. We work hard and as a result, we get rewards. This is human logic in a nutshell. Yet God's way calls us undeserving. Isn't that such a hard thing to swallow as amazing as it is? The fact that no matter how hard we work or how clean we live, we will never be deserving of this gift.
I don't know about you, but to me this presents a problem because deep down I like to justify what I receive. In fact when someone does something to me that I can't justify, it usually makes me uncomfortable because somehow I want to repay them for it. I don't think I'm alone on this, which would explain why we so often reject the thought of grace and continue to live in guilt and self-condemnation.
Yet even though we are uncomfortable with the idea of grace, in truth, that is exactly what God is offering us. Ephesians 2:8-9 tells us,
"God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it."
God strips away our performances, tosses aside our accomplishments, covers our sin separating it as far as the east is from the west and loves us for who we are. Shauna Niequist in her book Bittersweet defines grace this way when she writes:
"Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty. It's when you finally realize that the other shoe isn't going to drop, ever. It's the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time.
Grace is when you finally stop keeping score and when you realize that God never was, that his game is a different one entirely."
So put away the scoreboard. Burn the tally you've been keeping of your good deeds. Throw away the records of your sin and allow yourself to accept completely God's amazing grace and the gift of His son Jesus, who went to the cross so that you wouldn't be measured by your holyness, but instead by His. Stop running from your past, stop trying to earn your way, and instead rest in the incredible love and grace God has for you!
Reprint rights available on request. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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