Grace is not earning a reward, but receiving a gift. Grace is not getting what you deserve, but getting better than you deserve. Grace is not dependent upon performance or effort, but upon the generosity of the giver. Grace is what we have through Jesus Christ. Jesus went to the cross to do for us what we could not do for ourselves. We are saved by grace.
We like to fool ourselves into believing that we are independent, successful people who achieve through our own ability and effort. On one level that is true, but on a deeper level we are dependent upon God for everything. We depend upon God for life, for health, for the people we love and who love us. We depend upon God for washing us clean of our sins through Jesus Christ. We are dependent upon grace.
Why is it so difficult for us to accept that we rely upon grace? One reason is that grace defies the conventional wisdom of the world, which says that you get what you deserve. Another reason is that we are always comparing ourselves to others, and in the comparison we are more likely to feel cheated than blessed. A third reason is that we have a strong desire for justice. Justice is good, but a strong desire for justice can blind us to the truth that we all stand in need of grace.
In the end, God chose both justice and grace through the cross of Jesus Christ. The sacrifice of Jesus satisfied the requirements of justice, and the free gift of his son was the ultimate expression of grace. In our sermon this Sunday, we will talk about our core value of grace.