Grace - Undeserved, Generous and Free
I had missed the point of what this parable is all about, and I had missed it because I had a heart problem (a spiritual one). This parable is not so much about work as it is about God's amazing grace towards you and me. God took the time to reveal the truth to me and since then this parable has become one of my favourites, and that's why I want to share it with you today.
Before we go any further, take a few moments to read this parable from Matthew 20:1-16. You can read it at BibleGateway.com by clicking here
1. Grace seeks us out.
The owner (God) looked for and hired workers again and again. God always makes the first move towards us. Time and again he seeks us out. In grace, he reaches out to us.
2. Grace is undeserved.
The owner chose his workers before he knew what they were like or if they even deserved to be hired. God chose us, before we were even born, before we had the chance to prove ourselves or do anything to deserve his choosing. This means there is nothing we can do to earn his acceptance and love – he’s already freely given it to us.
It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace - his undeserved kindness in choosing them. And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is - free and undeserved. Romans 11:5-6 (NLT)
For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time - to show us his grace through Christ Jesus. 2 Timothy 1:9 (NLT)
3. Grace is generous.
The owner gave those first workers what he had promised to give them and he was also generous in the wage he gave the last workers. What he gave was entirely up to him – it was his to give away and it was his choice as to how he would do this.
God is Sovereign and his grace is available to all. God does not rank people as the world does – grace is not about what we deserve and God doesn't play favourites. God generously and freely blesses us all with his grace. He is always fair and just in his dealings with us. He always keeps his promises and he can always be trusted.
Yet look at how some of the workers responded to what the owner had given them. They complained. They decided they deserved more. They believed they were entitled to more. They had earned it. They were the ones who had worked physically hard long. Yet they had no reason to complain. And neither do we.
The world says work for it, deserve it, strive for it. Jesus says, “No it’s my free gift to you.” Not only that, it’s free for all and not just a select few.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. Romans 3:23-24 (NLT)
The problem is, we, or I, can sometimes slip back into my old mindset of trying to be good enough, of making life all about the things I do. When I do this I cheapen grace, thinking it can’t be enough on its own, thinking I need to do something to add to it. I forget how costly grace is for the one who gives it freely. What I am actually saying to God is “What you did for me is not enough”.
I can then easily become legalistic, judgemental, critical and rather than the focus on grace and God, the focus is on me and my works. No longer is life about a relationship with God, instead it becomes a religion.
The workers also compared. When they were given their wages, they became jealous and envious. They compared what they had got for the work they had done with what the first workers had done and received and they didn’t like it.
Rather than being jealous of what God has given to others, my focus should be on all that God has blessed me with and all the ways he pours out his grace on me. In doing so I will develop a heart of gratitude instead of a jealous heart. Comparing what God has given and done for me with what he has done and given others will only make me miserable and ungrateful.
So, what is my response to the grace that God has given me and continues to give to me every day of my life?
Whilst I can never earn my salvation, my response to God’s gift of grace is to give my life in service for all he has given and done for me. I live for God demonstrating my love and gratitude to him for all he has blessed me with.
For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favour drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us]. Ephesians 2:8-10 (AMP)
“For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.” (St. Augustine)
To Think About:
What is your response to God's gift of grace to you? Is your response one that brings him glory?
If what you read was of interest to you, then you may like to know that my book "Dear Friend...52 Weekly Devotions to Encourage, Challenge and Inspire" is available to buy from Amazon. (Its content is material adapted from previous blog posts.) To learn more, click on the link below: