Monday, June 05, 2017

Gifts and Grace

In Sunday school a few weeks back, the teacher asked the question, "Does the forgiveness we receive from God depend on our repentance? Does it depend on how sorry we are for what we did? Does it depend on how hard we ask for forgiveness?"  

You can read the Bible and see scriptures that would support the answer to that question being yes, but if the answer is yes, then the whole idea of grace is a farce.

Grace is a gift. Unearned. Unmerited. Undependent (I don't think that is a word) upon anything that you or I do. If there are requirements, then it is not a gift.

My in-laws had a tradition, call a happy. A happy is gift given for no reason. Not a birthday gift, not a Christmas gift. It's usually a surprise, and it demands nothing in return.   It is in no way an exchange. It is grace.

Rachel Held Evans, in Searching for Sunday, described a gift she received from a friend. Evans didn't want the grace of the gift (flowers). She received them, and then immediately considered how she could return the favor, so that she wasn't in debt to the friend - so that the grace of the gift could be negated. She writes, "I was in possession of my friends' gift long before I received it...."

The giving of the gift is dependent upon nothing. The receiving of the gift - that's the rub. And yet, God's grace can even help with that.

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