For a while now, Matt has been informing me of his desire to be Iron Man. He’s in that stage of pretend; everything is real— from cooking meals in his pretend kitchen to driving spaceships through the sky. Wanting to be Iron Man is just one more desire in the land of pretend.
Last week, Emily and I were doing our regular errand running when we stopped in at a second-hand store to find jeans for my ever-sprouting teenage boy who grows by the meter each week.
My eyes were focused on jeans when Emily walked over with a little boy’s Iron Man costume.
For the rest of our errand trip we both were bursting with excitement as we imagined Matt’s surprise when we presented him with this gift. We were bursting more with anticipation of being able to give this to him than maybe he was going to be excited. There’s nothing like surprising someone you love with a gift that is just right for them.
When we arrived home, we left the groceries in the van because the groceries could wait but our desire to give couldn’t. We yelled for him: “Matt, come here! We have something for you.”
As he descended the stairs he questioned us: “For me, why??? What is it for?”
Close your eyes, hold out your hands…Emily placed it in his expectant hands and he opened his eyes.
“Iron Man…for me?” “But why, did you get it for me?”
“Because we love you and we want you to have it.” In awe, he slowly put it on….not really sure why we were giving it, but so happy that we did.
With Christ, my striving and working doesn’t earn me more gifts, more love or more acceptance. Getting my devotional time in or attending church every Sunday doesn’t earn me “Christian of the month” status or a bonus pay-out of extra love. His love for me is unchanging and unconditional.
His love is not conditioned on my doing. Nor does my not doing take His love away.
Inside each of us is this engrained rule of law: “Doing” brings reward.
- If I work hard enough, I’ll be rewarded.
- If I read my Bible enough, I will…
- If I pray more, I will…
- If I _______
That line of thinking is all based on, “If I…” and what I will get if I do ___________ (fill in the blank)
But Christ says, It’s not in doing, working or striving.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God —not by works, so that no one can boast. ~Ephesians 2:8
In our society, we’ve made gift-giving conditional. For the most part, when we receive a gift it’s for a reason…
- Baby shower
We’ve done something that warrants a gift be given. We’re expecting the gift because it’s our turn…our day…our occasion. In fact now, we specify what gifts we want to receive. We register for what we want…baby gifts, wedding, even graduation. We write our wish list for Christmas and give ideas to others for our birthday.
We make our list; make our expectations known and then wait for those who love us to follow through and give us the gifts we’ve requested.
Our Father in heaven doesn’t give according to our list of desires or so-called deserved gifts. He gives as He desires.
He gives out of perfect love; bestowing gifts on us as He deems. Not because we’ve accomplished some great feat or crossed some milestone of life but simply because He loves us.
It’s nothing I’ve done. It’s not in my own doing or good behaving that has earned me His Gift of Love and Grace. He just simply loves. He takes my wretch of a life and makes it His treasure.
Our Father gives— not because we deserve it or because we have earned it through something we’ve done. He loves to give and He bursts with anticipation as we receive His surprising gifts of love.