As I spend time praying and reading scripture, there are often times that I believe God will give me a certain word that resonates with me and I will spend hours, days, or sometimes even weeks really thinking about how that particular word or concept is a part of my life and the life of others. In recent days, particularly as I attempted to reflect with a fresh perspective on the crucifixion and resurrection during the Easter season, the word I cannot get out of my mind is “deserve”.
As is often the case when something is on the forefront of your mind, I’ve heard and seen that word or concept used dozens of times recently; I’ve even used it myself several times. “I deserve a nap after a day like today.” “I deserve these cute new shoes, I work hard for my money.” “I deserve a “thank you” after what I did for him.” Perhaps my favorite is when I justify having too much dessert or spending $6 on coffee – “Treat Yo Self…..you deserve it!” As I scroll through Facebook and see folks complaining about poor customer service or being treated unfairly by others, the comments come rolling in. “You didn’t deserve that” or “You deserve better than that!” As I work with parents in the school setting I frequently hear, “He deserved a better grade” or “She didn’t deserve to get into that much trouble.” I’m sure if you stop to think or begin to take notice in your own life, you’ll hear the word more than you ever realized. We are an entitled culture.
Jesus was born in a filthy, smelly, cold, dark, barn. He was not placed in a brand new bassinet with soft sheets recently washed in fabulous smelling delicate detergent. He was not adorned with a “coming home” outfit nor did he come home to a Pottery Barn nursery full of clothes, toys and diapers given to Mary at numerous showers the months before. Certainly He “deserved” at least those things. We don’t have a lot of information about His childhood other than to know He was wise beyond His years and He loved to be in His Father’s House at the temple. He was just one of the children, yet He was definitely not just one of the children. We know His family wasn’t wealthy and He didn’t travel by chariot or with pomp and circumstance. He certainly never had “what He deserved” according to our societal standards.
Jesus had a humble upbringing, but it was the days leading up to His death, burial and resurrection that give me so much reason to consider what He deserved in relation to what I think I deserve. Jesus deserved a triumphal entry on a white horse, not a donkey. Jesus deserved friends who would stay awake and pray for Him and with Him in the moments before His betrayal. He deserved friends who would stand by Him and not deny they knew Him as He was arrested and led to a mock trial. He deserved friends who wouldn’t betray Him. Jesus deserved a fair trail. He deserved to be able to speak up and argue His case. He deserved respect and honor. He deserved a royal crown, not a crown of thorns. He did not deserve to be mocked, spat upon nor beaten beyond recognition. He did not deserve to be hung on a cross nor pierced with nails. He deserved ten thousand angels to take him off of that tree. He did not deserve to suffer and He certainly did not deserve to die. He deserved a proper burial, not a borrowed tomb. And yet, not once did He say, “I deserve better than this.” He said very little….which said so much. And in His final moments He said the thing none of us deserves, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” But it didn’t end with his last breath. In three days He walked out of that borrowed grave and conquered sin and death forever. Oh what a Savior.
Jesus took what He did not deserve so that you and I could have what we do not deserve. It is so difficult for me as an achiever to fathom the concept of not needing to earn a gift so great. I want to work hard and be good and love Him better than anyone else, but that isn’t the deal we’re given. None of us can earn His love and none of us can lose His love. He simply asks us to believe He is who He says He is and to accept what He’s done for us. And no, we definitely don’t deserve it. Not any of us. Certainly not me. And as if the gift of salvation isn’t a great enough gift, we’re promised as Christ followers the gift of the Holy Spirit as a Counselor and Helper until we’re reunited with Christ in eternity. Then we’re promised many mansions and a Heavenly home so beautiful we can’t begin to imagine it. We’re treated by our Father as an equal heir with Christ, His only son….EQUAL. How can we ever deserve that?
I’ve been reminded over and over again in the last few weeks, that our time here isn’t ours to hold. We aren’t guaranteed one more day. We don’t know what tomorrow holds and in an instant, everything can change. This gives me two things to consider with deep conviction. First, do I know where I will spend eternity and secondly, what will I do with the time I’m here?
We can choose to become a part of the angry, entitled, arrogant, hateful culture that is all around us or we can choose to accept the gift we’ve been freely given and live from the overflow of that. We can love God and we can love others…..because HE FIRST LOVED US. I pray that if you’ve never accepted this free gift that you’ll open your heart to Him and take it. It’s as simple as confessing that He is who He says He is, believing that you need forgiveness of sins and a Savior, and accepting Him as that in your life. If I can help you with that or answer questions you might have, please contact me. I’d love to hear from you!! If you are already a follower of Christ, I pray that you’ll join me in committing to live each day giving others the kindness they may not deserve because I’ve been given the grace I will never ever deserve by accepting the gift of salvation through Jesus. I am so grateful I don’t get what I deserve.