Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ~Titus 3:5-7, KJV
I worked at a bicycle shop during my college years. It was a pretty good gig; fun people, upbeat environment, good pay, and I got to learn and participate in a pretty exhilarating sport. But it was a summer gig. I worked from early May to mid August every year, and then packed up my little Honda hatchback and headed six hours north to go back to school. Nothing really that permanent bound me to that shop, nor it to me.
I came home the Christmas of my sophomore year to an envelope with the Cyclery’s emblem on the front left hand corner. Curious, I thought, because they weren’t expecting me until May—I didn’t work over the three week holiday in the winter (which I should have. But I didn’t.) A little nervous, because I depended on that summer set-up, and so did my college education, I tore open the envelope.
It was a check. For a little more than two-hundred dollars. Maybe not that much to a full-grown, full-time worker, but to a nineteen year old college kid paying her way through school? Wow. Two-hundred bucks that I hadn’t banked on.
The shop, it seemed had done particularly well that year, and to celebrate, they gave every employee a generous Christmas bonus. Every. One. Even the slacker, part-time college kid who really didn’t deserve it. It was an extraordinary gift from a generous employer.
That’s the thing about grace. It’s given freely, generously, and is always unmerited. This righteousness that I’ve been awarded? It’s not really of me; I didn’t earn it any more than I really earned that Christmas bonus. I stand alone in grace because of His extraordinary gift.