When is the last time you said, “I deserve it!”? Have you said it today? What do you deserve? I tell myself I deserve things like dessert, a new outfit, a day off, or a raise. To say we deserve something is to say we feel we have earned it because of some effort we have put forth. But is that an appropriate thing to think?
I had one quick conversation with my husband which calmed my concerns about what I deserve. We were discussing a project, on which we’ve been working, that is nearly completed. There is a payoff for us at the end and I wanted to say, “We deserve this!”
But a check in my mind said, “You deserve Hell and anything else you receive is God’s grace.” I asked my hubby if it was wrong to feel that we deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor. We had a great conversation in which he helped me to sort through my thoughts.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Romans 6:23
It is true that, as a sinner, I deserve death and eternity in Hell apart from God. But God sent Jesus to die in my place and because of His sacrifice, the price of my sin has been paid. I look forward to Heaven with Him. This gift is nothing I could ever deserve and therefore, enjoyment of life is nothing I could earn.
I should live in fear of death and what would come afterwards, but I don’t have to because of God’s grace. All glory to Him! (For more on this topic, check out The Gospel in a Nutshell.)
Now, because eternity is settled for me, I can focus on life in the present. And there are several places in the Bible where God promotes rewards for work well done. Here are just a few examples:
“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.”Proverbs 12:14
“The lazy do not roast any game, but the diligent feed on the riches of the hunt.”Proverbs 12:27
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”Proverbs 14:23
My husband and I agreed that yes, because of what God has already done for us, we are free to look forward to the fruits of our labor. It is even okay, if we’ve fulfilled the requirements, to feel that we deserve them. But we want to hold them loosely.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20
If the reward that I feel I deserve falls short, or does not come together in the way I expect, what is my attitude? It would be natural to feel disappointed, but if I feel an all-out tantrum coming on because I didn’t get my due, that might be an indicator that I’ve been laboring for the reward instead of for the Lord.
Jesus suffered a death He didn’t deserve to give us a glorious future we don’t deserve. Are we willing to lay aside what meager rewards we think we deserve in deference to Him? If so, then anything He grants us to keep is fully ours to enjoy. And honestly, God adds to our rewards more often than He takes away from them. As His children, we receive far better than we deserve!
One quick conversation calmed my concerns about what I deserve. The freedom found in Christ is like no other! I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the 99
And I couldn’t earn it
I don’t deserve it, still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of GodReckless Love by Cory Asbury