Friday, June 11, 2010

Grace or Mercy?

At our house, vacation means new shoes, sunscreen, fun hats, pool toys and anything else that we just can't live without while we are away. Tuesday night I took the boys shopping for just such things. We found some incredible deals which makes Matt and Matthew very happy. As we were leaving the store with our plunder in hand Matthew looks at me and says, "Mom, what did I do to deserve all of this?" "It's called "grace" son. I love you, but you don't deserve any of it, but how awesome that God does not bless us according to what we deserve." That one sentence has resinated with me over and over again since that night. I'm sure it is the same with most children, but usually my children have this idea that they "do" deserve everything. Give me, give me, I want, I want, I need, I need...Matthew was so humbled and so confused as to why he deserved these things. We teach our children from a young age about grace and mercy. For example...Joshua disobeys and Matt takes him to the back, all the while thinking he will be punished and then his daddy does the unexpected. He looks in those dark eyes and says, "Son, you deserve a spanking right now, but I am going to give you mercy today because I want you to understand that this is what God does for us. We are sinners and we deserve punishment, but God has given us mercy. He does not give us what we deserve. Today you are getting mercy so that you can understand and learn that your heavenly Father offers you mercy as well." This all sounds great and good and like such a profound parenting moment, until the next day when Joshua disobeys and as they walk to the back he grabs is little bottom and says..."Give me mercy daddy, give me mercy." You've got to love it when those spiritual character training lessons backfire on you. No, not really, but in the Hawkins household mercy is not always given. The harder lesson I think is "grace." We are all planning to go out for ice cream and Jacob hauls off and hits one of his brothers. Well, he deserves discipline, but instead we load him up in the car and take him out for ice cream. That doesn't make sense. Exactly! Yet, that is what our heavenly Father did for us on a much larger scale. We are sinners and we deserve hell, but not only does He say "I will give you mercy by not giving you what you do deserve...Hell. He says, I will give you what you don't deserve...Heaven." Grace is being given that which we don't deserve in spite of our sinful actions. If you grow up in church or around believers you hear these words grace and mercy your whole life, but do we truly understand what they mean, the difference in them and do we fully comprehend the price that was paid. I want my children to understand that they are sinners in need of a Savior, but I also want them to understand how deeply, how passionately, how sacrificially, how unconditionally their Heavenly Father loves them. As a mom or dad, we have small scale opportunities to share this with our children. But before we share it with them, I think we must truly grasp it ourselves. The mercy concept I get...I deserve hell and my Jesus has given me mercy and I will not be receiving what I deserve. However, grace is a harder concept for me to grasp on a daily basis. Each day I am given that which I do not deserve, over and over again and in abundant portions. The problem is, we must stay humble before our God or we begin to think we DO deserve all these things which He is bestowing upon us. I love Ephesians 3:20 "For He is able to do abundantly more than all we could ask or imagine." That is grace, He does, He gives, He blesses us with abundantly more than we can imagine and more than we could ever deserve. Why? Well, first because He loves us, but I also believe he showers His blessings on us as He offers grace so that we can point to Him in ALL things. All for His glory, His honor and His kingdom. Wow, how I fall short. I like to camp out in the first reason, because He loves me, forgetting that it is not because I deserve it, but because He just loves me! When I grasp the reason, then I want to use it all to point to Him and give Him glory. My house is not mine. My car is not mine. My resources are not mine and perhaps the hardest one of all...My children are not mine. It all belongs to Him and it is all a result of His grace in my life. I am praying for myself and for my children that God would take these pious, prideful hearts and mold them for His glory as they learn to be humble and give Him glory. Daily I am better able to understand Matthew's question as I ponder over the blessings in my life, "What did I do to deserve all of this?" The answer...NOTHING. That is why grace is a free gift and I am so thankful that it is.

Isaiah 26:10 NIV

Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.

John 1:16 NIV

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.

Romans 9:16 NIV

It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy.

1 Timothy 1:16 NIV

But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

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