I love Ephesians 2 : 8: “For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the GIFT of God!”
“I owe you one!” How many times have I heard those words ringing in my ears as I’ve departed from the presence of a friend or acquaintance after having giving him something from a heart of love. “Here, let me pay you for this!” “You shouldn’t have done that!” On and on the responses to a proffered gift so often come back! I’ve known several people who have never learned how to receive a gift. They feel they must earn it; they must pay for it; or they must decline it if it’s not been worked for or deserved.
The same tendency often bleeds over into our reception of God’s gift of salvation. Particularly liable are people whose religious training, culture, or individual desires call for real commitment and personal involvement in living for God. It’s so easy for them to feel that salvation must be worked for and earned.
Often, when I’ve grappled with the same temptation in maintaining a close walk with God, I’ve been blessed and thrilled to remember the penitent thief on the cross. After having lived a wicked life, with only moments to spare before death and with no chance to earn or merit salvation, he simply RECEIVED the GIFT Jesus offered. That’s GRACE!
Kate Ulmer said it well: “Nothing of merit possessing, All helpless before Him I lay! But in His precious blood flowing, He washed all my sin-stains away!”
If the gift of God’s grace could be earned, it would not be a gift; it would not be grace!