Pastor Column: God’s Gift of Grace
Have you ever tried to take a shortcut on something with good intentions, but it backfired and left you embarrassed?
Peter Marty wrote in The Christian Century (7/31/2019) of when he and his wife were first married and they efficiently gave another couple a wedding gift – one of two identical picnic baskets they had received at their own wedding earlier that year. Peter and his wife were present for their friends’ unwrapping of their gifts. However the gift tag, “To Peter and Susan,” had been left in the bottom of the basket from their wedding. Peter and Susan were mortified and embarrassed that their re-gifting had been exposed to their friends.
Peter concluded that “re-gifting can be a risky practice with all types of gifts except one – the kind we receive from God. When we share gifts or blessings that have been given to us by God, there’s no end to the joy extended.”
That reminds me of an embarrassing experience I had with grace when I was a child. A local hardware store was giving away free kites to kids. I was excited to get a kite, especially a free one. My mom drove me to the hardware store and let me go in the store by myself to get the kite. However, when I got in the store, I was embarrassed to ask for a free kite without buying something (even though our family bought a lot in that store over the years). It was like I couldn’t believe anyone would give me something for free.
I wandered around the store like I was looking to buy something. Finally, my mom came in and asked me what was taking so long. I quickly got a kite and thanked the store owners and left. I had moved from embarrassment over asking for the kite, to feeling foolish for having taken so long without asking for the free gift!
That is how I understand God’s grace. It is a free gift, offered to us by God. It’s right there for the taking, with our name written on the gift. We don’t have to do anything to deserve the gift or earn the gift by ourselves. Jesus came 2,000 years ago to give us the gift himself. All we have to do is claim the gift for ourselves!
Once we claim God’s gift of grace, THEN we can respond with humble thankfulness, letting go of lots of things we get over-worried about and trusting God’s grace to overcome all of our shortcomings.
We also respond with genuine joy by honoring God’s great worth in our lives through joining others in worship each week to celebrate God’s gifts of grace to us individually and as a community through Jesus Christ, and as we seek to share God’s gifts of grace with others!