My cup overflows

This past week Doug and I were served up a pretty giant helping of grace. Our car was in desperate need of some significant repairs, and the scope of work exceeded our resources. I received an email from someone I had never spoken to before, someone halfway across the country, offering to carry this burden as if it were their own.

That is a thank-you note that you don’t even know how to begin to write…

As we faxed off the invoice for the car repairs yesterday, I thought to myself, what is the right response to this kind of generosity? My first thought was this: to live a life worthy of the gift. That seemed like a good and right perspective at first, but as the day progressed, something about that seemed incorrect, or at least incomplete. It almost felt like a cheapening of what this person had done for us. Their generosity flowed from who they are, and not from some balance sheet of our goodness, so for me to try to “live up to” their gift felt twisted.

I think the best way for us to honor this person and their sacrifice is not to somehow seek to earn or deserve it after the fact, but rather to let it be what it is: a beautiful gift of the very thing we could not do for ourselves.

Yesterday I read a great piece on grace (thanks, Bill Kinnon), and could not help connecting it with my experience this past week. The author makes this claim:

the entire sixth chapter of Romans says act like God has graciously done everything necessary for your salvation and you can’t do anything to save yourself. Grace, not legalism, not works, is the great motivator of the Christian life. Every appeal in Romans 6 is based on what God has done that we cannot do, and the greatest obedience flows from the grace of God.

The reason for this is clear. Grace magnifies the giver.”

1 comment

  1. I have many times received grace in this kind of way. As soon as I read your words positing the idea of living up to it I winced. I was glad you realized that isn’t the way to go. Realize your own undeservedness and recognize that gifts come to the undeserving. And – not to earn or deserve this gift – resolve that in small ways – sometimes as small as a smile or a kind word – you will give grace to other undeserving ones.

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