Has anyone ever given you a gift or done something for you that you can’t repay? Was it hard to accept? Did you feel underserving?
What about when someone does a favor for you, do you ensure the gesture is reciprocated and feel guilty if not?
I’ve recently been on the receiving end of something like this. While it’s not the only time I have been the beneficiary of such generosity, it doesn’t matter how often – big or small – it is hard to freely accept gifts without feeling indebted. As I’ve thought about the feeling of needing/wanting to pay back the blessing just bestowed upon me, I can’t help but think of Christ – the ultimate giver whom we can never repay.
Accepting the forgiveness from the One who knew no sin yet took on all of ours at the cross so we could be declared righteous is the tenet of our Christian faith. We proclaim there is nothing we can do to earn this gift – it is His free grace. But, do we really live in light of this reality? Or, do we act as if somehow we need to make ourselves more worthy to receive God’s love by “paying back” our failures?
Here is what I mean: Say you’ve just given in to that same old sin for the thousandth time. The one you promised God you wouldn’t do again, but now you did. You think surely He must be mad at your for constantly failing. You feel like a “bad” Christian and deeply unworthy to even be called one. Afterall, continuing in sin and not looking any different than anyone else is what deems Christians to be such hypocrits!
You determine you must clean yourself up to make up for the flaws. Maybe if you went to church more, attended Bible study or remembered to pray that would help. You could volunteer to serve a ministry or give to someone in need. Plus you vow to do everything necessary to raise “good” kids. So you go to work making yourself and your family “better” in an effort to appease God. While at the same time condemning youself that you don’t already have it all together and live more victoriously.
I hope you hear my sarcasm and see the fallacy in this thinking that leads to the disconnect of how we often live and what we say we believe. The problem lies in thinking we need to do something to makeup for our sins, so we fixate on our behavior as if that is what makes us worthy. The more we focus on external behavior and appearances the further we stray from remembering who He is for us – in that while we were still sinners He died for us!
There is nothing we did to deserve this great love and nothing we can do to undo it. When we get this truth, there is great freedom. Freedom to live as broken sinners, fully forgiven and Redeemed!