Can You Live With Grace?
Read Matthew 20:1–16
“Are you envious because I am generous?” Matthew 20:15b
God’s grace is so marvelous, so amazing, that you might wonder why anyone would ever reject it. It’s a free gift, a grand prize better than the lottery! Why decline it?
Well… grace is messy, grace can seem unfair and illogical, and grace can be upsetting if I’m a prideful man (which I am). This week, let’s look at some objections and tensions regarding grace.
I was reading blog comments the other day when I came across this insight by a woman named Marla Alupoaicei:
Christians say that we want grace, but what we really want, deep down, is justice. We want the so-called “good people” of the world to be rewarded and the “bad people” to be punished. When we see the floodgates of heaven opened and God’s grace poured out on the seemingly deserving as well as the undeserving, many of us act like the miffed older brother of the prodigal son or the laborer who worked the entire day for a denarius and grew disenchanted when he saw another worker receive the same pay for one hour’s work.
You see this dynamic all through the ministry of Jesus: The good religious people are annoyed at the generosity of God. What about you?
Ever mentally tsk–tsk friends who spend way too much money on stuff you’d never buy? It’s hard to remind yourself that it’s not your money. The thing with grace is, it’s not your money. And the One who has it is a big spender.
I guess you could say that’s the hitch, if you’ve been looking for one, with grace: You have to accept that others get it too.
The very people you hate, the ones you loathe, the ones who drive too fast down your street, the ones whose loud parties annoy you at night, the ones who beg for money when you know it’s a con, the ones who called you names in school, the ones who say they’ll change but never do, the ones who hurt you so bad you still have scars, the ones whose politics you believe are leading the country to hell in a hand basket, the ones you disagree with on that litmus test issue, the ones who are ruining your city, the ones who let their dogs poop on your lawn, let their kids scream in church, let their impulses get out of control, cheated on you, lied to you, laughed at you, yelled at you, the ones who litter the beach, talk in movies, cut in line, the ones who flip you off, cut you off, hack you off — well, if they simply receive it, they get grace too. Same as you. (And guess what? You might be on someone else’s list!)
I think it was Groucho Marx who said, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” That’s something like the problem people can have with grace. If I get in, then anyone else can too. What if they don’t deserve it?
As Philip Yancey writes, “In the realm of grace the word deserve does not even apply.”
Can you live with that?
Do you agree or disagree with Marla Alupoaicei’s statement? Why?
Is it hard for you to accept that a certain group or person can receive God’s grace? Would it be tough to see someone in heaven? Who?
Thank God for being a big spender when it comes to grace! If there’s someone you resent or have difficulty imagining “graced” by God, bring that person to God in prayer now. Ask God to soften your heart.