Exodus 34:6-7 says, “And the LORD…proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty…”
God declares Himself to be gracious. What does “gracious” mean? According to the dictionary, it means gentle, kind, and merciful, but God says that He is also patient, good, forgiving, and truthful. It’s because of these attributes that He extends unto us His grace.
Grace means God’s unmerited (or unearned) favor. And there’s absolutely nothing we can do to earn it or deserve it because of our sinful nature. At our very best, we are not good enough to compare to the King of Glory and His righteousness. We may think we can earn it or that we’re good enough to deserve it. That only shows God how little we know about His righteousness and standards of perfection.
Let’s compare a multi-billionaire to an orphaned child who’s been living on the streets fending for herself. When she comes to him, she’s barefoot, incredibly dirty, dressed in tattered clothes, covered in sores and lice with no means to clean herself up before she approaches him. But he’s kind and good and merciful, and he takes that little child into his home. He adopts her, accepting her just like she is. Then she’s bathed and de-liced. He gives her brand new clothes and shoes. He takes her to the doctor where she receives the best medical care and puts her in a school where she’ll receive the very best education. She now has a home and can call him “Daddy.” He loves her and takes care of her and from here on out, he will provide all her needs. She’ll never be in want again. In addition to all that, she is now his heir.
What did this child do to earn her position as his daughter? Nothing.
What did she do to deserve his mercy and kindness? Nothing.
She had nothing to offer, nothing to give him that he could possibly want in exchange for his favor on her wretched young life. And that’s how we come to Jesus: wretched and dirty. Isaiah 64:6 says, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”
You have nothing to offer God in exchange for His mercy and kindness. Absolutely nothing! Despite your miserable condition, God adopts you into his family, accepting you just as you are.
He cleans you up and clothes you with His righteousness. Revelation 1:5 says, “And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.”
He provides you with the best possible education by teaching you Himself. John 16:13 says, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.”
What did you do to deserve that? Nothing. What did you do to earn it? Nothing. You enjoy the benefits and privileges of being adopted into God’s family despite how unworthy you were when you came to Him. That is the grace of God.