Ephesians 2:8-9 Amplified Bible (AMP)
8 For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; 9 not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].
It is the Christmas season and we are thinking about Gods amazing gift of Jesus coming to earth. Jesus is the Fathers’ gift of grace to us. But when you think about it, what is grace? We sing about it….Amazing Grace how sweet the sound….and we preach about it. Heck even the businesses in the Christian and secular world understand the concept of grace. You know how it is, we sign on the bottom line saying we promise to pay on the 1st or 15th please give me the car, the furniture, the house, etc. But sometimes you just can’t pray. But how precious it is and how much we appreciate those 15 days grace. Needed but not deserved!
Some may say there are more important words, how about LOVE! We talk about love we sing about love and erect statues about love. Yes we thank God for His love. But in Grace there is always love but in love there isn’t always grace. Look I know my mom and dad loved me, but I grew up in a time parents didn’t mind a giving a good whippin! And my mom and dad believed in whippin! There were times I did wrong and I know I did wrong and I know a whippin was coming. Mom was standing there, belt in hand and fire in her eyes, I’d be crying momma, momma no momma, please I won’t do it again! But every now and then a little bit of grace would come over momma and she’d say …… boy you better go sit down somewhere just get out of my face!!!.. Yes I know grace that was Needed but not deserved!
To me one of the best example of needed but not deserved was demonstrated by my old neighbors Ari and Elisheba Kline. The Klines were a number of people I knew growing up who were holocaust survivors. They both passed away years ago.
When I was a teen Mr. Kline told me a story about a trip the two of them took back to Flossenbürg, Germany to see the camp where they were imprisoned. But while in the town they took the time to try and find families of the prison guards from the camp. The Kline’s found 11 relatives of those men and for the ones who would speak with them to give them a message of forgiveness. Despite the loss of the Klines’ family and friends at the hands of the Nazi these two showed grace to their abusers’ families. They didn’t give them what they deserved, they gave them what they need. Needed but not deserved!
That story reminds me of another time of unmerited grace in the parable of the Good Samaritan. The Jewish people were cruel and oppressed the Samaritan people even though they all shared the same bloodlines. Hatred between Jews and Samaritans was fierce and long-standing. There are countless modern parallels to the Jewish-Samaritan enmity—indeed, wherever peoples are divided by racial and ethnic barriers. But yet while others Jews passed by one of their own who was injured in the ditch and even walked on the other side of the road to avoid him it was the Samaritan who showed grace. I can imagine what many of us would have done in that situation. I could see us saying…….
“Well look who’s in the ditch, that can’t be you mister high and mighty man down in the ditch. No you told me for so long I am the dirty one. Well now you stay in the ditch, and I hope you rot in the ditch”
But no, the Samaritan didn’t give him what he deserved he gave him what he needs. Needed but not deserved!
The ultimate show of grace with out a doubt was Jesus on the cross. Jesus looked down from the cross upon a scene that must have been distressing to Him. The Roman soldiers were gambling for His clothing (John 19:23–24); the criminals on the crosses to either side of Him, one was reviling Him (Matthew 27:44); the religious leaders were mocking Him (Matthew 27:41–43); and the crowd was blaspheming Him (Matthew 27:39). Surrounded by this most unworthy lot, Jesus prayed for them. “Father, forgive them” is a prayer of unmatched mercy and love. Even in His agony, Jesus’ concern was for the forgiveness of those who counted themselves among His enemies, He gave them grace. He asked the Father to forgive the thieves on the cross who jeered at Him. He asked the Father to forgive the Roman soldiers who had mocked Him, spit on Him, beat Him, yanked out His beard, whipped Him, put a crown of thorns on His head, and nailed Him to the cross. Jesus asked forgiveness for the angry mob that had mocked Him and called for His crucifixion. Jesus didn’t give them what they deserved, He gave them what they needed. Grace, needed but not deserved!
If you’re a follower of Jesus, are you ready to give people grace despite the current situation? Are you ready, no matter how you are treated, ready to show amazing grace? Can instead of giving people what they deserve you give them what they need? Don’t get me wrong, grace is not excusing or ignoring what they did that was wrong, No grace is not allowing the issue to take up space in your life. Or as Pastor Rick Warren says “Don’t let them live in your head rent free in your head.” Grace is needed but not deserved and we got it because it is a gift of God. If you are ready to give that gift, then let’s sing….
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.