New math

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Grace doesn’t add up. Two plus two doesn’t always equal four. Grace defies obligation. Grace is not bound by promises and oaths; it’s not bound by anything, for that matter. Grace doesn’t make sense. Grace opens us up like a flower. It makes us completely and utterly vulnerable. It is not tied to anything we do or don’t do. Grace can’t be earned or bought. Grace is so free that it’s laughable. It’s over the top. It’s lavish. For a miser like me, grace feels almost illegal. Something must be wrong. Check the numbers again; this is a lot more than I deserve.

Like those workers in one of Jesus’s parables who got paid a day’s wages for an hour of work. They were faced with a dilemma: do they pocket the money and go home, or bring it to someone’s attention and risk losing it if it’s a mistake? Of course it’s no mistake; it’s what the master wanted to do, but they don’t know that. Grace feels a little like finding out there was no mistake. “You mean we get to keep this?”

Grace fosters this feeling. We get what we don’t deserve, and when we get what we don’t deserve, we have more to give away. It makes us generous with what God has given. God has lavished His grace on us, so why not lavish it on everyone else?

I was thinking about this just yesterday when Marti called me from a baby store with some things she had found for our granddaughter and our future grandson (due next month!). She wanted to know if we could afford it. (We’re talking $28 here.) Instead of what I usually do when I hear questions like this — sucking air through my clinched teeth and exhaling with a long sigh while I try, passive aggressively, to answer the question without really answering it — I said, much to my surprise, “Absolutely. Go for it!” She told me later, that she about dropped the phone, and how much genuine joy this response brought her. I think this is what we’re talking abut when we say gracious giving.

Can you tell this is hard for me? Have you noticed how late the Catch is coming lately? That’s because it takes me three or four tries before I get it. And even then … I’m not sure. Giving is hard for me, never mind giving graciously. But I surprised myself this time by realizing I just told my story in the previous paragraph. I didn’t think I was going to ever have my own story, and suddenly, there it is.

So it’s your turn now. We’re waiting for more gracious giving stories, so click on reply and send me one!

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4 Responses to New math

  1. Mark says:

    Loved Today’s Catch…

  2. Timmer says:

    My giving story (one of many) was a few years back when one morning I found $100 in our church parking lot. We’re located on a sketchy area and I’m sure it wasn’t one of our members’ money. That night we had a missionary speaker and at the end of the evening I was compelled by the Lord to give it to them. And I told them the background story. A few months later I saw them and Steve told me that they had tire trouble on their drive home and the $100 covered their need!

  3. John A Fagliano says:

    I’m not the kind of person who can afford to do this too many times but I did it twice. I was in a restaurant sitting alone eating when I saw a woman who was going from table to table but she didn’t work there. “I’m short on my check. Can you help me with some money?” she said. I had no cash since I pay for almost everything with a debit card. I don’t know if she was impoverished or just forgot money. I couldn’t tell by looking at her. I was about to say I have no money but that felt like a lie. I thought well maybe I can give her more than she’s asking. “How much is your check?” I asked. She showed it to me. It was $13. I took it from her, got up from my seat leaving my food there, (I didn’t even think to worry that a busser would clean the table before I was done) I walked with her to the register and used my card to pay her bill for her. When I got back to my table my food was waiting for me.

    A second time I was at a fast food place. Once again I had just sat down and only had my debit card which I had just used. This time a woman who clearly looked poor asked me for some change to get something to eat. I took out my card and said “Go order something. I got it with this” There was no line so we were quickly up there. She ordered her meal and I put my card in the machine that read the chip and was charged a little over $9. About the same that I paid for my own meal which I sat back down to eat.

    Now I have to ask myself, if I had cash would I have just given what they asked or would I have paid their entire bills like I did? I can only say that it felt good to give beyond what they asked because that’s what a person of God should do. Go the extra mile when they don’t expect it.

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