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Why It’s So Hard to Accept Grace

Some people really struggle to accept gifts (REAL GIFTS). “What’s the catch?” “What’s this for?” “Why do you think I need this?” and other questions get in the way of gifts. It makes sense. Most of us have been dealt many “masked” gifts that were merely barter attempts to get something from us. We have let down our guard long enough to start to enjoy or appreciate what’s given, only to discover the “hook” hidden within the bait of the gift. Every time we experience something like that, it’s harder to receive, to believe, and to trust.

A real gift is an expression of the giver’s goodness, not the recipient’s. A reward is different from a gift. Unfortunately, we confuse the two. A real gift is based on a person’s affection, generosity, awareness, or mercy. The minute we think it’s deserved, we have crossed the line from gift to reward. This has become crystal clear to me. And if I dare to start to think that GRACE is a reward for what I have done, then I have cheapened that gift. It would be like me saying to a friend, “It’s about time you recognized how lucky you are to have me!”

A long time ago, I realized I had come to Jesus with nothing that deserved reward. I could try my best to be a good person, to accomplish meaningful things, to be respectable and upright, but in the end, even those attempts were about self-preservation and justification. And Jesus knew it. He offers us what we cannot earn or deserve. It’s only because of how much HE loves us. It’s a gift He gladly gave because HE was good, not because of what WE deserved.

I had a chance encounter at a restaurant last week while I was gone. After 20 years of absence, I walked into a restaurant, and a woman behind the counter called my name. And with one sentence, she pierced my heart with recognition and affection. “You buried my son many years ago,” I remembered exactly who she was, and my heart was immediately tender. She had been expecting a child. She went into labor and delivered a stillborn child. So I walked into that hospital room over two decades ago with my heart broken for THEIR broken hearts. I could not help but give my compassion. I didn’t know them, know their story, know their “qualifications.” Their loss broke something in my heart, and I gladly gave them my time and help.

And seeing this woman again reminded me in stark detail: Jesus’ compassion for me was no different. My broken story sparked His great affection and help. It was UNmerited. He gave it simply because I needed it. It was a gift, not a reward.

This Easter season, will you delight in GRACE because you can envision Jesus walking into your brokenness with loving forgiveness and mercy? Leave behind your religious achievement. Trade it gladly for the grace-gift He offers to you!

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