For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23 NASB)
God comes down here in the form of one of us. He looks down in the hole I'm in, jumps in next to me, boosts me out, and stays behind to receive the punishment I deserve. What an overwhelming act of kindness...of love. (Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13 NIV)) What could I possibly do to deserve such a selfless act love? Nothing.
Perhaps the most difficult part of God's grace is the fact that it is offered for free. It is a gift. I've had more than one time in the world of ministry when a person want's to show kindness to me through a gift. I always find it awkward and humbling. I was raised to work hard and deserve my pay. I was raised to take care of my wife and children. I was raised not to live off handouts but off of using the knowledge & skills I have in productive work. I receive gifts for Christmas and birthdays, but I reciprocate with gifts to the giver...somehow making it all come out even. I don't know how to handle it when someone hands me money, a check, a "paid in full" invoice, or a literal roof over my head. I somehow want to pay for it, but then I look at my bank account and I can't.
God's grace is the same way. It's a gift. It's a huge gift - far greater than any financial gift we give one another. But the feelings end up being the same. I somehow want to pay God back for getting me out of the mess I was in. Then I look at my spiritual bank account. I'm overdrawn. I can't pay Him back.
Grace comes from a Greek word that simply means, "gift." By definition, a gift is free. There's no reciprocation possible with a gift. There's no payment plan. It's given. It's received. It's free.
Take the time to wrap your head around the gift God offers you through the actions of Jesus. Then, if you're like me, start to humble your heart to receive the gift. You'll need it (humility, that is). It will be the best decision you have ever made.