Flowers showed up at my door. I hadn’t done anything to deserve them. I hadn’t been sick, I hadn’t lost anyone, I hadn’t rescued a cat out of a tree or done anything heroic. I had no idea the reason for such a gift and no reason was given on the card. In fact, the only thing written on the card was a time and place for a complimentary mani-pedi that afternoon. Now I was really curious. Who was this from and what was it all for?
When I arrived at the salon, I timidly gave my name to the front desk. “Ah yes,” the receptionist said as she handed me a beautifully wrapped box of chocolates, “These are for you.” Still no note, no explanation. I asked for the name of the one who paid for all this to no avail. “Your friend came in this morning to pay for everything, but she was adamant that we do not give you her name.” Seriously, who was this from and what was it for?
When discussing the delightful events of my day to my husband, I discovered he had been contacted by my flower-giving-salon-booking friend to confirm that I would be home. Though he refused to reveal her identity, I pressed him enough to get the reason for such generosity:
Kindness, he said.
I was kind to her? I don’t remember doing anything special for anyone.
He smiled and corrected, I meant she did it out of her kindness.
Kindness. Unearned and undeserved. In other words….grace.
Grace is kindness that is initiated solely in the character of the Giver.
When we receive kindness, we search desperately for the reason why we deserve such treatment, figuring it must have began with something in ourselves. We do the same with grace. We forget that the kindness we receive from Jesus is initiated solely by who He is, not by anything we have done. Grace begins in the heart of God. “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19) When we receive grace as it truly is, as unearned and undeserved kindness, we can turn our eyes off ourselves and simply adore the Giver.
Consider Adam and Eve for a moment. Even in their sinless state, what had they done to earn a place in paradise? They were the created; God was the Creator. God didn’t place them into a garden that would simply meet their needs, He set them into paradise. Was this initiated by something they had done? Even more amazingly, God chose to walk among them. What had they done to deserve His presence? Wasn’t it all a gift to them initiated in the heart of God? out of His kindness—undeserved kindness?
If we start believing that Jesus’ kindness to us is initiated by something we have done or by something we didn’t do, we fall back into trying to earn grace. But our faith and action come in response to His grace not the other way around. Grace must first be extended in order for it to be received. Kindness must be offered before it can be enjoyed. The emphasis is placed on God’s amazing character, not ours.
Why do I say all this?….because one never graduates from grace. In fact, learning to receive more grace is how one grows. I cringe when I hear others insinuate, almost unconsciously, that they try to use as little of God’s grace as possible. Grace is God’s undeserved kindness and favor…I want to receive all that He’s giving! Not so that I can use my freedom to indulge in sin, but so that I reign in life through Jesus Christ!
Just as the flowers were delivered, the salon was booked and paid for, our salvation, life more abundant, has been laid out according to God’s kindness. Our choice is whether we will receive it. Will we receive the flowers and go to the salon? Will we receive His grace and walk in that which He has already set out for us? Will you receive His undeserved kindness today? and the next day and the next day and the next…