Sometimes I try to buy grace.
Like when I apologize. I adopt a penitent facial expression. Though I might feel true remorse, I often feel I must add a little something to be convincing. So I lower my eyes and soften my voice. I say, “You probably won’t believe me, but I’m sorry.” I wait for their payback – err… I mean forgiveness.
Here’s how I know when I’m trading for grace. If they don’t respond quickly – I feel cheated. Huh? I wronged them and yet I feel robbed? How’s that? It is because I feel I’ve paid the fine for the offense and now they owe me. So it wasn’t grace I was asking for – rather I was exchanging services.
The other way I know I’m trading for grace is when the other person actually forgives me. “Roger, you did hurt me, but I do forgive you.” I might nod, but I’m hit with a pang of indignation. “Well, I think… you didn’t mention anything about the courage and humility it takes to say I’m sorry… you just act like you want to forgive me… like’s it’s some sort of undeserved gift.” So you see, I didn’t want forgiveness; I wanted a receipt for paying my fine. “There – we’re even.”
You can’t buy grace. It only comes as a gift. For release, you are dependent on the other’s good will.
It is the hardest thing to believe. All the things I want the most – forgiveness, affection, warmth, acceptance – are all gifts. I can’t buy, coerce or manipulate the real thing. I either feel pressure to make you love me, or I feel that your love can’t be real since I “made” you do it. I only complicate matters when I try to buy what isn’t for sale.
How often do I miss the real thing?
Roger Edwards joined The Barnabas Center in 1991. In addition to counseling individuals & couples, Roger teaches & leads discussion groups about applying the Bible to everyday life. He is a licensed professional counselor, holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from Grace Theological Seminary in Indiana & earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from UNCC. He is married to Jean, and they have seven children.