A few years back McDonald's was telling us in their adverts, “You deserve a break today, so get up and get away to McDonald’s. ” Many of us agreed, and headed out for that umpteenth hamburger. It didn’t matter where we were or what we were doing; we stopped, changed our priorities, and went. The idea that we “deserve a break” seems to be one that is easily awakened in our minds and brought to the fore. I can muster up all the discipline within me to finish a project, and two minutes later find myself at my local Starbucks at the mere suggestion that I’ve been working so hard I therefore deserve a break. Hey, if someone else thinks I’ve been working hard, it must be true!
The question of what we deserve and don’t deserve is a tough one today. The fact is it’s always been a tough question to answer. But with the multitudes of people on the planet vying for increasingly limited resources, just what we deserve becomes a real issue. Who are we going to ask to determine for us what we deserve? What quality in us makes us deserving of anything? At some point in our lives each of us has proved that we deserve nothing. Most of us who have traveled a few years along the roads of life have learned to be thankful for what blessing comes our way. Seeing others less fortunate than ourselves many times catapults us to this response. My health, family, friends, job are all things that at any moment can be taken from me. I don’t deserve them and yet my life is blessed with them.
The Bible approaches this subject with the assertion that because we have all demonstrated our selfishness, we are in fact deserving of nothing. Thankfully the Bible doesn’t leave us there but rather tells us a tremendous story of love undeserved. The Bible uses the word “grace” to describe this love. Simply put, grace is the extending of kindness or favor to someone who doesn’t deserve it and could never earn it. The origin of the word contains the idea of stooping, or bending. Bible scholar and pastor Donald Barnhouse once said, “Love that goes upward is worship; love that goes outward is affection; love that stoops is grace. ” It is this “stooping” kind of grace that we see in the gospel story. The Bible teaches us that while we were all going about our own business God stooped down and demonstrated his love for us. His desire has always been for us to succeed in life and to live fulfilled. Knowing our capacity for self-destruction, he provided a way through which we could achieve fulfillment. That way, we are told, is through faith in Christ. As a matter of fact the Bible goes so far as to describe Jesus as the visual representation of God’s gracious love to us. In other words, if we want to see what grace looks like we need only look at Jesus.
Now, virtually no one would deny that in Jesus we have a man in whom grace is exemplified. In his dealings with others we see compassion, justice, and a love that goes beyond the daily norm. For those of us who have chosen to follow this example, it is rewarding to see the effects of that same grace on others. At a time in which we are conditioned to think there are no free lunches, this sharing of biblical grace hits us right between the eyes and forces us to consider the veracity of its origins. When we see it or feel it, we sense something different – something beyond the ordinary. We are lifted, encouraged, and confirmed in who we are, as creatures made in his image. The effect of grace is transformational and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
Paul Peixoto is an author, speaker and trainer with a background in Pastoral Ministry and Communications with 25 years of platform experience. The bulk of that time he spent in the non-profit sector, where he honed his ability to communicate and motivate. Currently as the founder and president of The Serra Group he leads a team of communication consultants that work with the group’s pharmaceutical clients. He is a member of ASTD, and a certified NLP practitioner, trained by its co-inventor, Richard Bandler. He has led 100s of professional development workshops and presented scores of keynote addresses throughout the USA, Europe, and Asia. You can reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . Or visit his website http://www.paulpeixoto.com