In the world today according to what we know, what we are familiar with and what should be the norm, an offender deserves to be punished without any pardon. When people cheat, lie, steal, commit murder or other such offences, not only should they be reprimanded, they are to be held liable and should bear the full brunt of the law. This could include but is not limited to serving time in a correctional facility.
Today I would like to talk about a system that appears scandalous in nature. This system does not always give what one deserves especially when they have done something wrong. I call it GRACE. A few weeks ago when I began to study the life of our Patriarch, Father Abraham, I learnt that his was a life of Grace. This Grace is also one of his blessings that we can lay claim to today.
At the very old age of ninety-nine, Abraham fathered a son, Isaac, by his equally very old wife Sarah. As far as medical science goes this is not humanly possible. But thanks to God who makes all things possible; “For nothing will be impossible with God.” Luke 1:37 English Standard Version Father Abraham’s and Sarah’s ages in the natural disqualified them from parenthood. Yet Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son when she was past menopause. God had told Abraham everyone on earth would be blessed through him. “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Genesis 12: 3 NIV I believe the first person to partake of those blessings was his wife Sarah because by association with Abraham her youth was renewed and boom Isaac was born.
This did not happen immediately though. Around this time of God’s promise to Abraham, he had to relocate to Egypt in search of greener pastures. Out of fear, because of his immigrant status in Egypt, Abraham presented his wife, then called Sarai, as his sister because she was remarkably beautiful and he knew people would find her attractive and might kill him to get her if they knew she was his wife. (Sounds like a television drama series right?) Well, maybe but this is a story in our bible. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his own wife in such a way. How selfish could he be as a husband! Yet for this act, Abraham was not punished. On the contrary God put plagues on the Egyptian king (who wanted Sarai for his harem) and on his family. Abraham certainly did not get what was due to him. Rather he was spared, protected and favoured. “As he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai, ‘I know what a beautiful woman you are. When the Egyptians see you they will say ‘This is his wife.’ Then they will kill me and let you live. Say you are my sister, so that I will be treated well for your sake and my life will be spared because of you.” Genesis 12: 11-13 NIV
A similar situation reoccurred when once again Abraham relocated to a region named Gerar. “And there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, ‘She is my sister.’ Then Abimilek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. But God came to Abimilek in a dream one night and said to him, ‘You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman. Now Abimilek had not gone near her, so he said, ‘Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.” Genesis 20: 1-4; 7 NIV
God certainly does not operate like we humans do. Imagine the lies that Abraham told to protect himself yet God called him a prophet and the deliverance of the offended party was up to the prayer of Abraham, the offender. Again we would say that Abraham did not get what he deserved. God’s ways are SURELY NOT our ways. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8 NIV
I have sometimes heard people say “I don’t know what I did to deserve this or that.” The truth is that it is never really about us or what we do or do not deserve. It is all about Jesus who did it all for us. Jesus has taken away all the punishment due to us. Abraham kept getting blessed and even favoured; yet he was not on the best behaviour. Clearly his being blessed was not dependent on what he did. He had actually been naughty, trying to save his skin by pushing his wife into something immoral. Yet God did not reject him.
Dear friends, let us therefore acknowledge that our efforts are not the reason why we are blessed. All hard work is profitable (Proverbs 14: 23) but God it is who gives us the power to get wealth. (Deuteronomy 8:18). Let us NEVER forget that we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. What we deserve is an eternity of condemnation. But what we got is an abundance of grace and a gift of righteousness.
And that is Totally Undeserved.