Grace and Gratitude

Have you ever been notified by an attorney that your presence was requested at the reading of someone’s will because you are going to receive an inheritance? Most people think this is a bittersweet time for obvious reasons. I can only imagine what it would be like because I have not experienced this, but for those who have, I’m told it is an emotional time. Imagine how it must feel to come to the realization that someone thought enough of you to want to leave you something upon their death. With that thought, you start to reminisce on the relationship you had with the person, and this reflection usually reveals one of three different types of relationships.

First, you and the person may have had a blood relationship, and they left all they had to you because there are no other heirs to receive this inheritance. Second, your relationship to the person may have existed because you were a caretaker for them, and you are now being compensated for your service. Third…and this is the really special one! In this case, the deceased has left you a gift for no other reason except out of love. You didn’t work for the gift, and you may not even particularly deserve the gift. We have received such a gift through the grace of God. We are heirs to God’s kingdom through nothing we have done or could ever do to deserve such a gift.

So then, what does God desire from us? What is an appropriate and even expected response to God’s grace? The answer is simply we need to experience God’s grace in our lives and live a life full of holiness and love. Once we do that, we are compelled to extend that grace to others.

  • We openly talk about how we have been forgiven and changed by God’s grace.
  • We strive to live according to God’s will and desires.
  • We treat others with grace and mercy, not judgment and hostility.
  • We use the gifts and abilities God has given us.
  • We express our appreciation to God in worship.

Our response is the measure of our gratitude, expressed in love. Instead of keeping score and worrying about whether we will receive in proportion to what we give, we can be free to live out of the same grace that God has shared with us. We grow beyond doing things because we have to and move toward living out God’s call on our lives because we are free to do so. We love because others need to experience love. We share God’s gifts generously with others because God expects us to share all that we have and all that we are to spread God’s love to others.

In this fall Stewardship season, give thanks for God’s amazing grace poured out for us with nothing expected in return but that we give ourselves in response.

  • How will we serve in our congregations and our community?
  • How will we care for ourselves and one another?
  • How faithful will we be in our worship and praise?
  • How generous will we be in our gifts of money and possessions?

May our response to these questions be pleasing to God, and may all that we offer be acceptable giving God all honor and glory!

Deborah Rexrode, Associate for Stewardship
Presbytery of the James

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