I was waiting to pick up some pizzas yesterday afternoon and saw part of an interview with Lebron James. Having just won an NBA championship, he was wearing a shirt with the big, bold words that read: EARNED NOT GIVEN. For those who do not follow sports much, Jams is saying that the ring he won is not undermined because he won it after joining other superstars at the Miami Heat. He still can boast in his achievement since he doesn’t think it was just handed to him.
Earned, not given, is truly a desire of all men and women. We want to achieve and boast in what we do. But the reverse is true in what matters most of all. In Joshua we are going to see Israel receive a land that they have not earned. They should all put on shirts that say, GIVEN NOT EARNED, and wear them proudly. Moses had reminded them of this and looking back on their history they must know that to be true. The Promised Land is not a reward for their efforts, but a gracious gift of God.
Thousands of years later the story hasn’t changed. As we read another gospel and get into the letters in the New Testament, the truth is that God’s grace is given, not earned. What is most important in life is received. It is our relationship with God. We must be reconciled to him, and we could never do that by our own strength nor could never earn the love he gives us. If you ever see those EARNED NOT GIVEN shirts around, remember that when it really counts, the reverse is true. God’s grace is given, not earned.
(Maybe we should make shirts?)