I heard a critic of the proposed tax rebate say something to the effect of, “The government shouldn’t give people something they didn’t have to work for.” That statement just blew my mind. How can he say that? As a politician does he really think tax money is his? Does he know where tax dollars come from? If I am not mistaken the money the government gets from something called “income tax” goes to the government because we worked for it and secondly do they remember that this money is to be spent for the good of the people and not for their own gain? That statement was arrogant at best.
I wonder how often people are tempted to do that with grace. What happens when we forget that we are not the ones who decide who gets grace and who doesn’t. It is arrogant to think we are the dispensers of grace, forgiveness, and approval. It is not too hard to look at the Gospels and see that Jesus had nothing to do with people like that except argue with them and confront them. Jump through my own personal hoops defined by my agendas, values, and pet-peeves, and then I will give you some grace…then God will forgive you. Wrong. If we think God needs our approval to forgive someone we are just as arrogant as the guy talking about tax rebates. When the church withholds grace from the repentant and continues to judge the contrite we have a real problem on our hands. Here is where the tax analogy breaks down…When we think people shouldn’t get something they didn’t work for (grace) we have forgotten that that is the whole point!
Lord please forgive us if we have misunderstood what grace is all about. Let us first look at ourselves and be reminded of how graceful you have been in our lives. Remind us that those who confess their sins before the congregation are no more or less guilty than we are. Remove any arrogance we may have that builds walls between us and others. Remove any fear we have that tells us how dangerous grace can be because we know just how dangerous life is without it. Fill us with courage and boldness to give away what isn’t ours and remind people of how loving, graceful and merciful you really are.