The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8). Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:3-4)
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. (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Grace is simultaneously the most sublimely simple yet frequently misunderstood idea in Scripture. Everything within us fights grace. We want to work. We want people to get what they deserve—especially those people who hurt us. We want to believe so, so desperately that we get what we deserve, and what we deserve is good.
Grace is different. The comparison between religion and grace is as stark as light and darkness. Religion says, “do,” while grace says, “done.” Religion says, “work so God will love you,” while grace says, “you’ve been loved so much, let’s get to work.” But what does this means, really? What is grace?
Grace is that unmerited, free, generous kindness from God to us. It’s not a substance like air or water. It’s a part of God’s nature—to be kind to his enemies, and to love those who are far off. God’s greatest display of grace was, of course, when we gave up the life of his son to save mine and yours. We are saved by grace, not by works of religion. Have you any idea exactly how much that means you are loved, Christian? Have you considered the sheer volume of God’s affections for you, that he treats you not as you deserve, but as Christ deserves? What grace.
And yet, our hearts are so naturally resistant to grace. We are cynics of grace so often. “God couldn’t save me,” we might say, “I’ve done too much.” Our hearts machine excuses that supposedly disqualify us from God’s grace. But all that really does is show us our desperate need for it. How can we possibly shed this hardness of heart? How can we really begin to open up ourselves to the possibility of God’s grace?
Jesus gave us some great examples of grace-getters. This group of people are professional happy love-takers. Totally dependent, they never bother to fool themselves into thinking they don’t need help. In fact, they ask for it all the time. Who are they? Children.
Jesus said that unless we approach his grace the way children approach life, then we won’t get it. Children are humble—that is, they are aware that they need, well, everything to be given to them. My children wake up every morning and ask me for breakfast. They’ve never, ever gone without it. And yet, they always ask. Why? Because every morning they’re hungry. Do I begrudge them for this? No, I make them breakfast because I’m their dad and I love them. Is it so different with God? Surely the distance between us and God is greater than the handful of years that separate me from my kids. How much more, then, are we in need of him?
O Christian, come to Jesus for fresh grace today. He’s not looking to you to try harder on your own. He wants so much to serve up a fresh measure of his grace each morning to you, would you but ask. So today, ask him.