Trade Off?


Jesus compared our settling of our accounts with God to a king that settled his with his servants (Matthew 18:21-35). The head of the servants owed the king a very huge sum of money. There was no way he could repay his obligations. He pleaded before the king and the monarch out of mercy cancelled all his debts. It was an act of grace that set this servant free. Next, this recipient of grace goes to one of his fellow servants that owed him a few dollars and demanded that he be repaid immediately. This servant also pleaded on his knees but received no mercy or forgiveness. Instead, he was imprisoned and the report about this merciless servant reached the king. The monarch rescinded his act of grace and committed this man to the mercy of the jailor. Jesus concluded, “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each one of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

The people Jesus was addressing, at the time, were the very religious Jews that believed they could trade off their rituals and traditions for favors with God. Some of the deeds included fasting, giving the tenth, praying, washing before meals, worshiping by reciting the Psalms and the Prophets, excluding everyone that did no comply with their rules, and demanded an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth by stoning. They were a people that had received grace on a silver platter;hoever, they failed to live by it. They never expected to be held accountable for their mismanagement and misapplication of grace. The end result, even here on earth, was that God commissioned His messengers to seek out a people that were not His people (Matthew 28:16-20; Hosea 2:23).

Christians, have we fallen into a similar abyss? Are we using grace as a trade off for our unwillingness to separate from sin? Are we assuming that we are covered by grace no matter how we live, what we do and how we treat each other? We can if we do not regard our acts of worship as merits sufficient for grace and as pleasing God and ourselves. We did not receive grace to wallow in it! We received grace to live it out in our public life. Grace is setting us free at the highest level and the divine, in order that we extend grace to others with the same forgiveness and mercy. God conditioned grace so that it does not come back empty. If we do no use it on ourselves and with others, grace will leave us empty.

God did not give us grace in Jesus Christ to trade for our sins. Grace is not a tool in our hands to make God please us! Grace is God’s tool to make us do what is right for all of us (Ephesians 2:10). The idea that God expects nothing from us is unacceptable.