Erase the grace-hate

Grace_Gal_221I believe one of the biggest reasons why we struggle with the message of God’s pure grace is because we’ve been conditioned to hate grace.

I agree with Jim McNeely (“The Romance of Grace“), we’re grace-haters at our core. Grace is foreign to us, which is why we need the Spirit of grace to change our stony hearts and make it like His.

We live in a grace-hating culture, we grew up in grace-hating families, we have grace-hating jobs. So it’s not entirely our fault. It’s just the world we live in. Some might say it’s in our Adamic grace-hating DNA.

This is why we struggle with receiving valuable gifts. We deflect and sheepishly say grace-hating things like, “you shouldn’t have….”  Or conversely, when something goes wrong, we ungraciously lament with, “what did I do to deserve this?”

The real question we should ask is, what do I actually deserve?

One grace-hating proof is how we instinctively don’t like stories like the one Jesus told about the workers in the vineyard (Matt.20:1-16). Our sense of fairness recoils at the idea that the guy who only worked one hour got the same pay as those who sweated and labored all day. I mean, come on…be honest, don’t you hate this parable deep down in your soul? I know that every time I read this, something didn’t sit right with me.

And you and I know why…it isn’t fair!

And we hate it when it isn’t fair!

“It isn’t fair” is the language of a grace-hater.

So Jesus had to point this out to them, and to people like me, that when we say it isn’t fair, we don’t see things the way God sees things (bold-type added for emphasis).

“Is it not lawful for me
to do what I wish with my own things?
Or is your eye evil because I am good?” (Matt.20:15 NKJV)

He was telling me that when I say, “It isn’t fair,” I’m actually seeing things in an evil way.

He’s trying to tell all of us that He is always good and always gracious.

And we don’t like that because we’re grace-haters.

You see, the Kingdom operates on pure grace where there’s no such thing as “fair.” In fact, God is never fair. He never ever gives us what we deserve.

And shouldn’t we be glad about that?

Our fundamental problem is that we prefer to operate by our own efforts–living by sight, not by faith–limited by our own human resources. We understand hard work, sweat and lack…but not undiluted scandalous grace.

So we think people should only get what they deserve in this limited world we live in.

But God doesn’t live in that world. His world is unlimited, inexhaustible, super-abundant and super-extravagant. Everything about God is exceedingly over the top. Remember, He’s the God who made over 100 billion galaxies when He could’ve just filled our sky with a  few thousand stars!

We hate it when Jesus says stuff like…

“But love your enemies,
do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return;
and your reward will be great,
and you will be sons of the Most High.
For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” (Luke 6:35)

Yeah, let’s get real! He’s kidding, right?

And Jesus had the nerve to forgive people and tell them they were saved who didn’t even ask for forgiveness or confess their sins (Matt.9:2-5).

No Roman’s Road speech, no threats of hell, no sinner’s prayer, no crying at the altar, no chorus of “Just as I Am.” Didn’t Jesus know?  I mean…how could He!

He obviously never attended our classes on proper evangelism.

Again, this is why we don’t like the grace message that says we are saved by grace through faith alone. We must add behavioral rules on to this because…well, we hate grace.

Grace-hater self-righteousness shows up in both the rebellious and the religious. Either we’re putting ourselves on probation with God, never accepting restoration, or we’re angry when God isn’t rubbing people’s sins in their faces like He should be doing.

We see this in Jesus’ story of the father who had two sons (Luke 15:11-32).

The rebellious younger brother’s self-righteous refusal to accept grace showed up as, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son” (vs.19).

The religious older brother’s self-righteous ingratitude came out as, “I have been serving you…yet you never gave me…“ (vs.29)

But we grace-haters miss the whole point of the story. It was really about an unconditionally loving father who had already given them everything.

Grace-haters are judgmental because they think that there’s a possibility that they deserve something from God because of their good behavior. For instance, Paul had to straighten out the Spirit-filled charismatic grace-hating Corinthians on this point.

“For who makes you differ from another?
And what do you have that you did not receive?
Now if you did indeed receive it,
why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor.4:7 NKJV)

You’ve probably heard that grace is getting what you don’t deserve, while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. This is true.

Therefore, to be a grace-loving son or daughter of God in the Kingdom means that we must become people who are never fair–who are always giving people what they don’t deserve, never giving them what they do deserve.

So let’s put down our stones and be “sons of the Most High,” filled with His love, seeing others with His heart of understanding, knowing that it was our Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom so that we can afford to be extravagant grace-lovers.

Because that’s the way He rolls…all the time.

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 41 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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14 Responses to Erase the grace-hate

  1. Loved this! So thankful God isn’t fair! Praise God!

  2. dcummuta says:

    Amen!

    I was on the other end of that spectrum. It has always been harder to believe in that kind of grace for myself than for others. It’s interesting how there are always two extreme sides of the spectrum with God. He and His wisdom always seem to be sitting in the middle. 🙂 The beautiful balance of the Kingdom.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yeah, I suffered from the “hard on yourself” self-righteous malady myself. And l love Papa God’s idea of balance–it’s His extreme, over-the-top and relentlessly extravagant middle ground of reckless love and scandalous grace! 🙂

  3. Tammy McCarthy says:

    That was awesome! It really is a struggle sometime to read the Bible and understand what “we” consider the unfairness. It’s clear because I’m looking at it with a heart that is clearly NOT God’s heart. Never considered myself a Grace-hater…but here I am!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yup, we’re all in that boat! That is, until God’s over-the-top, amazing grace hits us between the eyes and we’re undone by His love. Our heart can and does change as we open it to His heart.
      Thanks for your comments, Tammy. 🙂

  4. Jodi Woody says:

    I so had issues with the scripture about them all getting the same wage…until I worked in the fulltime ministry for 13 years. As a school teacher for many of those years I heard, “that’s not fair” so many times it really wasn’t fair. I am so thrilled that God doesn’t give us what we deserve. Good word Mel.

  5. gahihgi says:

    I was just thinking about that parable a few days ago about the ones who worked only one hour and got paid the same. I want all God has for me but there will be some haters. How do you deal with that?

    Peace

    • Mel Wild says:

      Thanks for your comments, gahihgi. Much appreciated. We always show grace, even to the grace haters. The Kingdom culture is one that always gives what isn’t fair! Of course, that kind of attitude is only possible by having God’s grace flood our souls first. Blessings to you.

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