Thursday, July 12, 2012

Discipline of Grace

Well, hey, if I'm just giving money away....

Two days ago, I told you about my paycheck and how, to date, I've given every penny away.  Maybe you read that story and thought, "I need to talk to her...."  I took a slight detour yesterday to give you a little glimpse of a Biblical way to break bondage, to stop living by this or that, as I put it.  But there is more I wanted to say about this money thing.  Well, not really; it's more about grace.

Money is a good offer.  I get that.  We get excited when we suddenly come into a little bit.  A few years ago, I found a bit of cash in my baby box (not a lot; nothing worth robbing me over)...and I put it back in there so I can be overjoyed to find it again at some future date.  And that fiver you find in your winter coat pocket after a long summer in the closet?  Gold.  I agree.

But when someone is giving money away (and remember, I'm speaking money but it's also anything - time, possessions, gifts, love, mercy, whatever it is that they're giving. This time, for me, sparking this thought track, it happened to be money, but that's rare) we kind of have a few gut reactions:

They're showing off.  They have so much that they can just throw it around.  What an arrogant jerk!

They're foolish.  They don't know how much they've got here.  Enough to keep at least a little for themselves.  What a fool!

They don't care.  They're not thinking about what this really means.  This is something, not nothing.  What an idiot!

We kind of look down on people who give things away, who give freely of themselves and their resources, like they're trying to prove something or even buy something under the guise of goodness.

Grace isn't any of these things, and that's the difference.  That's where we have to change our hearts to see whether what we're doing is grace or grandeur (as of the delusional sort).

Grace isn't showing off.  It's not just throwing things around.  Grace acknowledges a void and assesses its resources to see where it can pour into the emptiness and prays somehow to make a difference there with its meager gift, even if that meager gift is everything in the storeroom.  It's not arrogant.

Grace always knows exactly what it's got.  Maybe not how it's going to work, but exactly what it's got.  It knows what it has to give away, what it has to keep, what it either gains or loses in a given exchange.  It's not foolish.

Grace cares.  It knows every bit of what this really means.  It knows this is something, a greater something.  It isn't aloof.

Grace is a discipline.

Some of these givers in our world, they count the cost and keep counting.  How incredible it is that they have given so much or, conversely, how they are now struggling personally because they have given too much away.  (Some kind of awkward pseudo-pious pity maneuver in which we kind of want to help them out because they got that way by being too generous.)  But even too generous isn't grace.

Grace counts the cost and considers it negligible.  It knows, ahead of time, what it means to give this, to give now.  It knows what that means down the road, what sacrifices are going to come, which ones are already here.  Grace is realistic about everything it has, everything it's giving but refuses to keep counting.  Grace doesn't keep score.

There are people who try to take advantage of grace when they find someone willing to give it.  People who will suck everything out of you if you give a little.  If they succeed and you give more than you're willing, you've gotten out of grace.  Because grace isn't something guilted out of you.  It's not something coerced.  It's just a gift.

From an honest assessment of what you have to an honest assessment of a void in the world.  From a realistic understanding of what you've got to sacrifice to a realistic understanding of something greater.  From a heart that has received the gift of grace poured a heart you can see needs a little.

That's all it is.  A little pouring out.  A simple gift.  And a discipline...because you can't be a pushover about it; then it's not grace.  You have to be a fall-to-your-knees about it; and draw on the gifts He has poured out on you.  Then give freely what is grace.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

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