How do we respond to God’s amazing grace? Scripture tells us that we have all fallen short of the glory of God. We are all in desperate need of his grace. Yet, the Pharisees had great difficulty with the fact that Jesus ate with tax collectors and sinners. Such thinking suggests that there should be limits on God’s grace.
We are familiar with parable of The Prodigal Son. He wasted his inheritance on riotous living. When the Father accepted his return that was one thing. But when the Father had a great celebration for him and killed the fatted calf, then that was quite another thing for the Father’s eldest son:
“Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. (Luke 15:26-29)
Where was the fairness? Do we become jealous of those of whom God has chosen to bless? None of us are worthy of his blessing. If Gos has forgiven us, are we to keep score on others?
One of the greatest blessings we have received from the Lord is the freedom to allow others to be blessed by God. Or are we to instruct God on how he should dispense his amazing grace?
Jesus told the parable of the workers in the field. The ones who worked only the last h0ur got the same wages that the ones who worked all day long. The early workers thought that their pay was unfair. They were not prepared for the master’s response:
Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” (Matthew 20:14-16)
Some of us are late bloomers. Thanks be to God for his mercy! God does not judge the way we judge. He does not keep score by the amount of work we do for him. Rather, he judges the heart. Love does not keep a record of wrongs, but rejoices in the right (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). If we need a theological explanation then here it is:
Yet you say, “The way of the Lord is unfair.” Hear now, O house of Israel: Is my way unfair? Is it not your ways that are unfair? When the righteous turn away from their righteousness and commit iniquity, they shall die for it; for the iniquity that they have committed they shall die. Again, when the wicked turn away from the wickedness they have committed and do what is lawful and right, they shall save their life. Because they considered and turned away from all the transgressions that they had committed, they shall surely live; they shall not die. (Ezekiel 18:25-28)
It is time for us to give up score-keeping on others, and even on ourselves. The Psalmist wrote:
If you, LORD, were to note what is done amiss,
O Lord, who could stand? (Psalm 130:2)
So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
The Gospel should free us from all score-keeping because we have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus. We should then forgive others and seek their forgiveness as well.