“You deserve it!” “You’ve earned it!” “You’re worth it!”
Chances are you’ve heard these phrases or a variation of them already today. Our culture is constantly trying to get us to believe that we are deserving of something-- a product they’re trying to sell, or an ideology they’re trying to promote. The pervasive idea is that we, on the merit of our humanity, deserve “the best” or “whatever makes us happy”. We are constantly bombarded by this message, so it’s easy for us to believe it.
However, scripture gives us a different message. God’s word tells us that by nature of our humanity we deserve punishment (Psalm 14:3, Ephesians 2, Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23).
Let that sink in for a moment.
We deserve death. We deserve to be separated from God forever.
But, by God’s grace, those of us who are in Christ are spared from this outcome. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Because God is gracious, He provided a way for us to be justified through the death, burial, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. Scripture tells us that before the foundations of the earth, He called His followers to Himself. (Ephesians 1:3-6) There is nothing that we have done or can do to earn His favor. As Jonathan Edwards put it, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary”.
This is grace: it is unmerited favor lavished upon us by a just and loving God. By definition, grace is not earned. We don’t deserve it because we’ve worked hard, or because we’ve made it through difficult circumstances. Our humanity does not merit grace. Grace also cannot be earned by working hard, being kind, or doing good deeds. These are all things that God calls us to do, but they are not what saves us. His grace is a gift that He has chosen to lavish upon us. Exodus 33:19 says, “And he said, ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy’.” Similarly, Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Are there things that you think you deserve? Do you ever find yourself feeling frustrated by your circumstances in life because you think you deserve better? (I know I do!). Take some time today to ponder the depths of your sin, what Scripture says you truly deserve because of it, and then thank God for giving you what you don’t deserve-- His saving grace!