“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”
– Galatians 2:19-21 NIV
Sometimes I feel bad, even shocked when I realize that it has taken me years to comprehend the impact of the Gospel on my life. Every so often I find myself struggling to fully comprehend the enormity of God’s grace and how to communicate it to you.
Maybe it’s because there is no such thing as a “free lunch”. We know from an early age that we have to earn whatever we have, especially if it is high value.
It’s the name of the game on the playground. We know what it’s like to be in the lineup when the two captains are picking their teams. We do our best to avoid being picked last.
As a student, I would brace myself for pop quizzes. I wrote term papers. I prepared for final exams. Grade point averages and class rankings are so important to get into the university or the graduate program of our choice. Life is so competitive. We work hard to be worthy.
As a result, the whole concept of grace becomes foreign to us. We relate better to a “work to earn it” approach to righteousness. After all, we have had to earn everything else in life.
Perhaps the best way to get a handle on this is to deal with the pull on us to earn the favor of God and the temptation to achieve accomplishments that will help us compare ourselves favorably to others.
Paul attacks the sabotaging tendency of each of us to regress from the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ to the bad news of salvation by works.
The reality confronting me is there is never enough I can do to earn the favor of God, and comparing myself to another is a despondent scheme at best.
Father God, I am so privileged to receive the gift of your grace. Thank you for your gift of unmerited favor. My self-styled right living is only dirty rags. I live today because you took action on my behalf, justifying me by your grace. Help me apply your unconditional merit for my good times, my bad times, and my in-between times.