Grace and Legacy

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:

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!

* New King James Bible translation unless otherwise noted. All emphasis added.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 38 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 Grace and Legacy

  1. hawk2017 says:

    Reblogged this on Logos Speaks.

  2. hawk2017 says:

    Whew. What teaching. Ty,:)

  3. Paul Martin says:

    Isn’t it funny how we can, in our minds, deny others the same grace that we have received? We don’t think it fair of God that a brutal murderer, for example, gets to go to heaven, by repenting right before he is executed for his crimes. Yet, we forget that it was not only the murderer’s sin that put Jesus in the cross….It was OURS! We foolishly compare sin in degrees, and weigh the fairness of God’s judgement…But in truth, God is NOT fair!!! It is NOT fair that Jesus, the sin-less One had to die to redeem us! We ALL deserve Hell, and yet His grace abounds to ALL!

    • Mel Wild says:

      Very true, Paul. This is probably one of the biggest blind spots we have as human beings. You would think that Christians would know better, considering how massively “unfair” it is for us to have Jesus’ relationship with God. Perhaps we forgot how to apply where Jesus tells us, “freely you have received, now freely give….” to our everyday lives.

      I have counseled with many, many troubled married couples over the years and almost none of them think of what they might be doing to their spouse. They pretty much all come to confess the other person’s sins. We’re kind of like that about everything. We want grace for ourselves (“you should understand”) but judgment on everyone else (“how dare you!”). It would be comical if it wasn’t so relationally tragic.

  4. SLIMJIM says:

    I’m grateful for Christ’s grace!

  5. Citizen Tom says:

    Excellent!

    Pride! We want to believe we can earn salvation. Until we get it through our heads that we can only receive salvation as a gift, we risk rejecting the gift of grace. That thought should frighten and humble us.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Yup. Pride. We don’t seem to understand the value and potency of receiving and being dependent on God. It’s counter-intuitive to everything we know in the world.

      Practically speaking, the problem is that we know in our heads that we can’t earn salvation, yet we go about acting like we think we should! It’s very subtle and deadly to our spiritual health. I saw a study once that stated that more than half of evangelical Christians think God is disappointed with them. These are people who follow Jesus and love the Bible. That’s tragically sad. But what’s really frightening is when legalistic people talk about grace. (Of course, legalistic people never think they are legalistic!) Legalism and grace are diametrically opposed, but they have redefined grace to mean you still have to follow some elusive form of behavior modification, which is nothing more than spiritualized self-effort. It’s definitely a hamster wheel that doesn’t lead anyone to find rest in God!

  6. Not sure how I ever made it through life without realizing that sometimes grace makes people angry and that we often hate it. I’m laughing here, but that would have been good info to have several years back!

    Loved that definition of, “more than a conqueror” too. Well said.

    • Mel Wild says:

      Me, too! It’s really crazy when you think about it. But once I realized that, for most people, grace is totally one-sided, I see it all the time! I’m not surprised anymore. LOL!

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