(This week’s devotions are based on Sunday’s message: Grace for All…Grace Upsets- LISTEN HERE)
We love grace and generosity when it it shown to us…we get upset when someone else receives generosity.
As a kid, when it was our birthday we loved generosity. Until it was a friends birthday and we got upset that we didn’t get a present too.
We love when we get a bonus for a year of hard work, but get upset when an individual who we perceive didn’t work as hard gets the same or bigger bonus.
We were happy with the salary we agreed to work for until we find out someone doing the same job is getting 25% more than we are.
We naturally put a judgment on grace and generosity because we naturally attach our effort to someone else’s generosity. We create a story in our mind that we have really worked hard for what we have and its not fair if someone else receives more simply because the giver wanted to give that person more.
It happens with God’s grace too. We subconsciously are trying to “justify” in our own minds the reality that we deserve the grace of God. We want to feel content that our contribution has made us worthy of receiving God’s forgiveness. It is natural to do this…but very, very dangerous.
The first danger is it shifts our hearts from relying on the grace of God to relying on our performance as a person. When we shift this way, we are obligated to be perfect or face eternal separation from God. That’s a disastrous shift.
The second danger is we get angry when someone receives the grace of God that we have determined hasn’t worked as hard or as long as we have. When we have determined someone is a spiritual mess and doesn’t deserve forgiveness, we subtly muse disapproval when they come to trust Jesus as Savior…as if their past doesn’t matter. (Which it doesn’t when it is covered by Jesus’ blood.)
Jesus wanted to guard the hearts of his followers to realize that the fact they were part of God’s kingdom was due to the generosity of Jesus, not their performance. And when others were invited into that kingdom of grace, we ought not be upset when God chooses to be generous with them.
Matthew 20: 1-16 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. 2 He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard.
3 “About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. 4 He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ 5 So they went.
“He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. 6 About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’
7 “ ‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.
“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’
8 “When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’
9 “The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These men who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’
13 “But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’
16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Apply: What seems “unfair” about how God deals with others? How does it make you feel? Spend time today listing the ways that God has been generous and gracious to you!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for your grace and generosity for all people, especially for me. Forgive me for thinking I’ve deserved it more than another person. Lead me to rejoice as you do over the one who receives your grace. AMEN.