Posted on January 7, 2014
There’s a consistent trend in the faith community describing the grace of God as undeserved favor. Maybe this statement resonates with you; however, it no longer resonates with me. Why? There are two reasons why I no longer describe the grace of God as undeserved favor.
The first is an identity issue. To own the phrase “undeserved favor” causes us to overly focus on ourselves as people who don’t deserve anything good in life. Then, a definition of humility emerges that degrades people, which ultimately degrades who God is, as the Creator.
Additionally, this statement degrades the character of God. God is depicted as one who shows us pity rather than a merciful father. Mercy says ‘you deserve compassion’, rather than ‘you’re underserving but I’m amazing and will show you pity!’ Contemplate this thought: something’s worth is demonstrated by the price a person is willing to pay for that thing. God willfully paid the price of His own Son’s life to break the power of sin within humanity and fulfill the penalty the law required.
This reveals God’s grace is not undeserved favor but unearned favor. Some may say these words say the same thing but not in my book. Unearned favor communicates I act favorably with you not because of what you have done or what you can do for me, but because of who I am. Period.
Remember God is other. He doesn’t operate like a wounded friend or lover who gets back at you when you do him wrong. Romans 5 says, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Remember He forgives. He blesses. He shows kindness. He smiles at you. He is vulnerable and shows you how your decisions affect Him and others. We desire to change when we are treated so kindly. He has a way of elevating us without inflating our ego.
This is the nature of grace. It is absolutely unearned; however, by his own demonstration of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, grace caused us to realize how valuable we have always been to the Father. Borrowing from the story in Luke 15, a lost coin is still a coin that has value even if it is lost. The value never leaves, but our awareness of that value can wane.
Grace re-awakens us to the truth that God has always valued us and as we grow in that understanding our life changes and lines up with the nature of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says it well: “God made him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Realize what Jesus has done. Sink into the truth that God, in Christ, has dealt with sin, that you might display to the world what it looks like to be God’s righteousness. This my friends is good news!