One thing that seems evident to me is that we naturally hate grace more than just about anything else. This strange inclination is rather ironic since salvation is totally based on God’s grace. In order to keep people in line we make up doctrines that mitigate against this scandalous, yet transforming grace. After all, people should only get what they deserve (tongue firmly in cheek here).
If you’re like me, you’ve never liked Jesus’ story about the last worker in the field receiving the same pay as the first in Matt.20:1-16. This is because grace always reveals the goodness of God…which usually reveals something insidiously ugly lurking in us:
15 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*)
This same evil judgment is demonstrated by the man who hid the money (mina):
“For I feared you, because you are an austere man. You collect what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow” (Luke 19:21*).
But isn’t this precisely the point of grace? To reap the benefits of someone else’s efforts?
These parables reveal how we judge people who are gracious. “It isn’t fair” is the language of a grace-hater. But, by hating grace this way, we’ve put ourselves in opposition to the Kingdom of heaven (Matt.20:1). This is because our mindset has been calibrated to a different kingdom (which is why we need our minds renewed).
Grace is the legacy of Christ. A legacy is an inheritance.
To illustrate legacy, suppose Billionaire Bill Gates decided to put you in his will. When Mr. Gates passed on to the next life you would inherit a portion of his enormous earthly wealth that you had absolutely nothing to do with. Indeed, you may even be the least deserving person on earth to ever receive any money from him. Yet, it’s all yours because of the grace of Bill Gates. The only thing you can do is receive it, ignore it, or reject it.
The New Testament says a lot about us being heirs and inheritors of something much more substantial. Here’s one instance:
17 And since we are his true children, we qualify to share all his treasures, for indeed, we are heirs of God himself. And since we are joined to Christ, we also inherit all that he is and all that he has. We will experience being co-glorified with him provided that we accept his sufferings as our own. (Rom.8:17 TPT*)
We benefit from Jesus’ legacy. Not because of what we do but because of what He has done. Because of this, you and I have Jesus’ relationship with the Father…here, now, while we live on the earth. As John says, “As He is, so are we in this world (1 John 4:17).
So, if you don’t like people getting what they don’t deserve, you still haven’t learned the first thing about grace or what you already have in Christ. We should heed Paul’s words:
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? (1 Cor.4:7 NIV)
One more illustration to help us understand grace and legacy that I got from Bill Vanderbush. We’re called “more than conquerors” in Romans (Rom. 8:37). What does that mean? Well, suppose I decide to fight in the heavyweight championship. I somehow (miraculously!) not only hang in there for 15 hard-fought rounds, I actually knock out my opponent. I receive the prize money. I’m a conqueror.
But here’s the thing. If my wife walks into the ring and takes the check from me, she’s more than a conqueror. That grace! That’s legacy!