The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest
A Church had an unusual yard sale. It was actually a storage room giveaway. The pastor said, "We didn’t really sell anything. We had so much stuff that it took up too much space. Also, we wanted to reach out to the community. As people came up we told them, 'Everything is free! Take as much home as you can. We want you to have it.' People responded in curious ways. Many were noticeably uncomfortable. Some didn't come, thinking there was a catch. Others refused to leave without paying. Others, after much convincing, finally took the stuff to their cars, not believing their good fortune."
That’s the way many people are about God’s grace. They insist on paying or working for it. Somehow, we just have to get the idea that we earned it, so we can feel worthy.
Grace has never been easy to receive. Pride gets in the way. A need to pay our own way causes us to reject what can only be received as a free gift. This is why some people refuse the gospel of salvation.
It’s too good to be true.
You and I could never do enough to earn or deserve God’s forgiveness if we worked for it every day for the rest of our lives. Our sin is so great, that the only way we could pay for it would to spend eternity in the lake of fire. But God didn’t want that for you or for me. He wanted a personal relationship with each of us for all eternity. So, he paid the price for our sins as a gift. It wasn’t cheap. It cost him plenty! He sent his only Son to become one of us and to die a bloody, cruel, humiliating death; beaten, spat upon, mocked, and nailed to a cross, the method of execution reserved for only the worse of criminals.
He did this because he hated our sin but loved us sinners with an unmeasurable passion. All we have to do is receive the gift on his terms. But, you will never earn it. I will never earn it. He wants you and me to take it free of charge.
Because we received such a gift, we must extend it the same way to others. No one deserves grace. That is why it is grace. Jesus once told about a man who owed his master a debt that could never be paid. The master forgave his servant of the entire debt without charge. He didn’t owe any of it any more. He went away happy, but then he searched out a friend who owed him about $20 bucks. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded payment of the debt in full. When the friend couldn’t pay, the man had him thrown into prison.
This story is mystifying. How could he attempt to force the friend to repay such a dinky debt when he had been forgiven of so much not forgive his friend. Perhaps he was wanting the $20 bucks, so he could go back and pay his master something. How lame would that be? But that would mean he had not been willing to meet his master’s terms. He
wanted to feel like he deserved his grace.
Jesus completed the story by telling how the master had learned of his ungrateful servant’s actions. He took away the grace and ordered him and his family to be sold as slaves until the debt was paid. Why, the man never truly accepted the gift.
Jesus forgave my messy life with Messy Grace. Caleb Kaltenbach had a powerful message about such grace for this church family and the community around us. I hope you will come to the FCC MESSY GRACE revival beginning this Saturday evening at 7:00 and experience this message Sunday morning and evening as well as Monday and Tuesday nights. Prepare to be stretched and possibly experience a revolution in your life. Bring your friends, relatives, neighbors, school friends and anyone you can find. Messy Grace can be WONDERFUL!