This week’s devotions are based on the Week 8 “Explore God” – What is a Lutheran? (WATCH HERE)
We are coming into a season where grace is ruined. Because grace is a gift.
What do I mean?
The whole premise of the Santa Claus story is that if a child is “naughty” they receive a lump of coal and if they are “nice” they receive gifts. I have heard parents during this time try to discipline their children with phrases like, “If you don’t behave, Santa won’t bring you any presents at Christmas.” I cringe not primarily for the story of Santa, but for the attachment of effort to gifts.
A “Gift” by definition is given regardless of the person’s performance. A gift is merely the expression of love one wants to give to another simply because of their love for them and in no way connected to what they have done to seemingly earn it.
I will grant, even giving a gift can be skewed because inside we have a silent evaluation at times of if a person deserves a gift.
With God there is no question that his gift of Jesus was given without any deference to the performance of people. People didn’t deserve the gift of Jesus. I don’t. You don’t. But God gave.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
God loved…so he gave.
This is grace. Grace is God’s undeserved love for sinners that drove him to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. As we looked at yesterday, our performance would never meet the perfect standard God demands. But Jesus’ perfection did. And it’s this perfection we are given.
But it’s even hard to receive a gift.
A common response to receiving a gift from an individual is, “Oh, you shouldn’t have.” Perhaps I am misreading this statement, but what I hear (because I hear it in myself) is this, “I didn’t do anything to earn your gift so you shouldn’t have given it.” Again, skewing the definition of a gift. If receiving gifts was based on our performance and we “should” be given a gift…then it’s no longer a gift. It’s a wage.
The Apostle Paul clarifies this for us
Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
When our salvation rests in God’s grace alone, my heart is not settled by “I did enough” but it is settled by the fact that God gave it to me. The objective reality of God’s gift of Christ’s life, death and resurrection far surpasses and subjective evaluation of my performance before God. Grace alone is a key focus of a confessional Lutheran church. We teach and focus on it because it is the Bible’s focus. Why? Because God in his love wants us to find certainty in our eternity with him because of his gift of grace, not our effort or performance. In God’s grace there is always certainty.
Apply: What makes it hard to truly give a gift or receive a gift? How does that challenge affect your perception of God’s gift of grace he gives to you?
Prayer: Lord, we praise you for your heart of love that was willing to give the greatest gift to us so we might have eternal life with you. AMEN.