16 February 2014
When i was young i loved receiving gifts, whether it be chocolate, candy, toys, story books or anything else a child would want. I had absolutely no reservation about receiving gifts from my parents or other people and just received them with a BIG smile and a “THANK YOU!”.
As i got older though, i became a little bit uncomfortable receiving gifts. The next thought that would pop quickly into mind after “Wow! Thank you!” would be, “how am i going to repay him or her this gift?”. Even if the gifts came from my parents, i would feel bad because i knew hard earned money was spent on it. There are also times when gifts are too extravagant that i feel inadequate and undeserving to be given such an extravagant gift. Over time, i stopped receiving gifts with the same child like joy and excitement. After all, i thought to my self, i didn’t need these gifts.
Today i was thinking about “grace” and what it meant in Christ. If “grace” is seen as an unmerited or undeserved gift of God to us that is in Christ Jesus who died for our sins, i start to see why it may be one of the hardest things to accept and most resisted gift by many.
Jesus said something very profound and puzzling in the bible:
“People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”” Matthew 10:13-14
But now when i read the above verse, i start to catch a glimpse into what Jesus might actually be meaning. The gift of Jesus is not only an amazing and extravagant gift of God, there is also no other gift above that of Jesus. If any gift, this gift would be the hardest gift to accept. Far too expensive, far too great, far exceeding anything i could return in favour. And that is precisely why i had the hardest time accepting Jesus. I didn’t feel i needed or deserved Jesus, in just the same way my defense mechanism prevented me from wholeheartedly receiving and enjoying an expensive or extravagant gift.
However, unlike gifts that we receive from friends and family every year, this gift was in fact something i needed. God’s gift of Jesus is more than just a gift which exceeded anything i could return in favour, it is a gift that i need. To need a gift is to need something that i myself could not obtain on my own. That is what i would add to the further definition of “grace” – that it is an unmerited or undeserved gift of God that we need and cannot obtain or earn on our own.
Someone asked me, “how can it be so easy to just believe in Jesus and think that all my mistakes are forgiven and that i will have all that is right with God?” He was indirectly asking – how can all of this be free? Without any merit on anyone’s part? At the time, the question did sound very difficult to explain and may still be. But if we understand what a gift truly is, and receive the gift like a child receives a gift, as Jesus told us to, then we begin to unravel the mystery of the verse in Matthew.
Children have no difficulty receiving a gift no matter how extravagant, and neither would a child reject a gift because they felt they could “obtain” or “earn” it on their own – because the simple fact is that they cannot.
Father God, thank you, thank you, thank you for your gift of grace that is in Jesus Christ. Jesus, thank you for embodying the gift that is not only what is needed by all, but also free for all to receive by believing in your name. You are my most precious gift and You are the source of all grace.