Are you envious because I am generous?

Hi Friends, 

Our title today is from Matthew 20:15b

I hope that you are enjoying our series on grace so far. I'd love to get your feedback and any question you have pertaining to grace. Not that I have all the answers but I would like to know what you're thinking. 

Ok, so God’s grace is so marvelous isn't it? It's so amazing, wouldn’t you agree?

Well then...have you ever wondered why anyone would ever reject it?

But people seem to, all the time.

It’s a free gift, why decline it? Here's a question for ya. Can you decline it?

Hmmmm...I have to think on that one a bit. I'll get back to you.

Well… grace is messy to say the least, grace can seem unfair and illogical, and grace can be upsetting if I’m a prideful man (which I am). You didn't have to agree so fast. 

I came across this in something that I was reading the other day by a woman named Marla Alupoaicei. Check this out, it's good:

 “Christians say that we want grace, but what we really want, deep down, is justice. We want the so-called “good people” of the world to be rewarded and the “bad people” to be punished. When we see the floodgates of heaven opened and God’s grace poured out on the seemingly deserving as well as the undeserving, many of us act like the miffed older brother of the prodigal son or the laborer who worked the entire day for a denarius and grew disenchanted when he saw another worker receive the same pay for one hour’s work.”

You see this same type of thing happening all through the ministry of Jesus: The good religious people (Oh I hope that's not me, but I suspect it is at times) are annoyed at the generosity of God.

What about you?

Ever mentally say, “Really!” to friends who spend way too much money on stuff you’d never buy? It’s hard to remind yourself that it’s not your money.

You see the thing with grace is, it’s not your money. And the One who has it is a big spender and He's not looking for your advice. 

I guess you could say that’s the hitch, if you’ve been looking for one, with grace:

You have to accept that others get it too. (And you just don’t like it.)

The very people you hate, the ones you loathe, the ones who drive too fast down your street, the ones whose loud parties annoy you at night, the ones who beg for money when you know it’s a con, the ones who called you names in school, the ones who say they’ll change but never do, the ones who hurt you so bad you still have scars, the ones who say they are Christian but don't live like you think they should, the ones whose politics you believe are leading the country to hell in a hand basket, the ones you disagree with on that religious litmus test issue, the ones who are ruining your city, (ouch! Did I have to say that?) the ones who let their dogs poop on your lawn, let their kids scream in church, let their impulses get out of control, cheated on you, lied to you, laughed at you, yelled at you, the ones who litter the beach, talk in movies, cut in line, the ones who flip you off, cut you off, hack you off — (take a deep breath)

Well, if they simply receive it, they get grace too. The same as you.

And guess what? You might be on someone else’s list! Heck I might be on your list. 

I think it was Groucho Marx who said, “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” Ha, gotta love that!

That’s something like the problem people can have with grace. If I get in, then anyone else can too.

But wait, what if they don’t deserve it?

As Philip Yancey writes,

“In the realm of grace the word deserve does not even apply.”

Can you live with that? No…really…can you?

Here are a few questions to ruminate on.

Do you agree or disagree with Marla Alupoaicei’s statement? Why?

Is it hard for you to accept that a certain group or person can receive God’s grace?

Would it be tough to see someone in the Resurrection? Who?

Today try incorporating these ideas in your talk with God.

Thank God for being a big spender when it comes to grace! If there’s someone you resent or have difficulty imagining “graced” by God, bring that person to God in prayer now. Ask God to soften your heart.

Grace ~ Peace, 

Pastor Jeff