How many times have I heard these words from well-meaning friends who were trying to encourage me in some way — whether to indulge in a rich dessert, spend money on something extravagant, or treat myself to some extraordinary pleasure! Although I often would like to entertain the idea that I deserve something, especially during a season of hardship or pressure, I know in my heart of hearts that I don’t deserve anything. In fact, I spent years striving to be “deserving,” trying to be worthy — worthy of admiration, emulation, recognition, acclaim, honor, significance. Perhaps I was actually laboring to earn self-worth and even, in a greater sense, eternal life. However, all my efforts proved to lead to a black hole that somehow got deeper with every so-called achievement. The best grades in school and the awards of honor societies failed to make me feel better about myself. Becoming a slave to a thinner body did not make me more beautiful. (I did not even bother attempting to excel as an athlete, as there was clearly no hope for me in that department!)
I was ultimately forced to acknowledge the truth: I could not earn or gain or deserve anything of real, long-term value on my own. I did not really deserve anything at all. The world owes me nothing — it does not owe me honor, kindness, respect, a home, a job, or anything else. The world will chew me up and spit me out. No matter what I think I should or could deserve, I in fact deserve NOTHING — nothing, that is, except perhaps death for my own selfishness and sin. Hmm… I could have saved myself a lot of vain striving if I had realized that fact in the first place!
So, what’s the point? The point is, God Himself CHOSE to set His love on me and die on the cross for me, ignoring my lack of worth and the fact that I deserve nothing from Him or from anyone else. Does that make sense? No, it doesn’t! God’s love transcends man’s reason and common sense. God’s love transcends the impossible! Only God can redeem that which is irrevocably ruined. Only God could pay for my glaring failures. Only God could wipe out the darkness in my heart. I DON’T deserve it — He knows that, and it doesn’t bother Him. In fact, He has been patiently waiting for me to realize how very much I need Him and how very much He loves me!
God longs for me to push the “off” button on my self-evaluation machine. I am INadequate and UNdeserving in myself, but COMPLETE in Him. He fills me with His very Presence and invades my heart with His wholeness and His peace. For that reason I can, as the apostle Paul stated, glory in my weaknesses. In 2 Corinthians 12:9-10, Paul declares: “But He [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I [Paul] will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses,in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (TNIV)
Praise the Lord! I can throw my “entitlement” mentality — the kind of thinking that tempts me to think I can or do deserve anything — to the wind. Instead, I have received the mind of Christ, in whom I can do all things (see 1 Corinthians 2:16 and Philippians 4:13). HE is worthy, and He graces me with Himself. He is deserving of all praise and glory!