Super Nintendos and Grace

I was about 10 or 11 the summer I begged my mom to buy me a Super Nintendo.  At that time, I believe the package deal came with Super Mario World.  Super Mario World.

I had one goal that summer: get that Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

The problem was, I didn’t have the money.  Or close to the money.  Or close to close to the money.

Mom cut me a deal.  She told me that she wanted me to practice math over the summer, and that if I did so many lessons in the math book, she would buy me that Super Nintendo.  I can’t remember how many lessons it was now, but it was a lot–either 50 and 100.

There was no reason I wanted to solve math problems over the summer, except one: to get that Super Nintendo.

I worked and worked on the math lessons.  I dreaded them, but I also looked forward to them so I could get them done.  Mom checked them for accuracy.  At last & finally, I completed the last dutiful problem and I turned my work in to Mom.

I got my Super Nintendo.

You know, I was thinking about this story this morning and how, for many of us, we still see grace a lot like how I saw that Super Nintendo System.

We know we can’t earn grace by paying for it.  We know we don’t have the “money”.

But we still try to pay for it with “math lessons”.

So many of us go to God with our “good works” and, almost under the table, we show Him what we’ve been doing like, God, I know you say grace is a free gift . . but look at this, would you?  This is good work 32 for the week. 

We try to buy insurance, if you will, in good works.  We try to convince God that, should He change His mind about His free gift, we have enough wonderful deeds saved up to sway His vote back towards us.

How this must grieve the heart of God.

First, when we try to do good works for our glory–which is really what we’re doing when we ‘save them up to our account’–we fail to present a picture of God’s grace to the world.  Our witness becomes how we try to “earn” favor with God–something the Gospel teaches us simply cannot be done.

Second, we quickly learn to either live in a state of denial or we realize how bad we are at good.  Only through God’s Spirit can bring us to good works.

Third, we burn out of wanting to try.  Bringing our own efforts to the table equals exhaustion.  We can’t, on our own, do anything right.  When we try, we wear down.  The more we wear down, the more bitter and frustrated we become.

But most important of all, we lose out of the Message of the Gospel: Jesus Christ paid it all.  We act as though there’s some kind of catch, as if there’s fine print at the bottom of the contract.  We forget that God, and God alone, made this agreement with us.  We didn’t help God tear the curtain in the temple from top to bottom.  God, and God alone, tore this curtain because the perfect sacrifice of Christ was complete.  For all who would believe.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23, NLT)

Published in: on June 12, 2014 at 10:17 am  Leave a Comment  
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