One morning a son placed a note on the kitchen counter. It read: “Mom owes Billy 25 cents for taking out the garbage, 10 cents for cleaning off the table, and 50 cents for being good.”
At lunch the mother placed a note on her son’s plate that read: “Billy owes Mother nothing for making his meals, nothing for washing his clothes, nothing for nursing him for when he was sick, and nothing for being good.” The tearful boy threw his arms around his mother and cried, “Keep the money, Mom. I’ll do things for you because I love you.”
When I first came across this story as part of a daily devotion, tears came to my eyes. This mother’s note to her son is such an incredible illustration of our own interactions with God. We add up all the good works that we’ve done and we plead with God:
Okay God, I’ve been good … now take care of me. Get rid of that cancer. Fix the broken relationship. Make them give me the job already.
And God’s response to us is, like the mother’s response to the little boy, simple …
I’ve already taken care of you – and asked you for nothing in return.
It is this radical message of grace that makes the Gospel so powerful. We don’t earn righteousness because of the good things we do. In fact, before we can do anything, we are already righteous because of God’s love for us. It’s so difficult to comprehend. And perhaps it’s one of those gifts that we will never truly understand as long as we live.
God shows me grace every single day. Most times those acts of grace are so small that unless I’ve got my eyes open, I’ll miss them. Every once in a while God will throw something big in there, just to make sure I’m paying attention. But no matter if it’s big or small, all that God asks of me is that I simply accept the grace and live boldly in response to it.
Because of God’s grace:
I love people not so that I become loved myself.
Instead, I actively love people because I am loved.
It’s not If I follow this list then God will love me.
Instead, it’s Because God loves me so much, I will do all I can to show his love to others.
It’s not If, then.
Instead it’s Because, therefore.
It’s the radical simplicity of this message that makes it good news. And yet so many times we twist this simple story. And even when we twist it the tiniest little bit, we lose the simplicity of the message.
I think that’s why this image of mother and son resonates with me so much. The radical simplicity of it all. The beautiful portrayal of pure grace that the mother shows her small, yet demanding, son. It’s a real example of the true meaning of grace. A tiny glimpse of the Kingdom of God.
How have you experienced grace lately?