On Competition

Competition is good…or is it? When does competition become good? I mean, Is it always good and healthy to compete?

Though I grew up as a more cooperative person than a competitive one, I still somehow learned to be competitive sometimes. I probably developed my competitive attitude from my childhood involvement in sports. But that mindset is somewhat carried outside the sports arena to the different aspects of my life.

Pride

That inclination is a servant of pride, I propose. Pride found a way. It uses that competitive mentality developed in sports, and then brought it outside to other areas of our life. Perhaps that’s why we see people everyday competing with one another. They compete, in beauty, in talents, skills, positions, in popularity, even in relationships. You name it, in most areas of life people compete with each other. Why?

People naturally crave for recognition, for appreciation and acceptance. These feelings—of being recognized, appreciated and accepted—feeds our self-worth. It feeds our ego, our pride. Because our society has managed to create a culture that only the winners are recognized, appreciated and rewarded, we become competitive. We learned very early in life that if we are not better than others, we will not be easily accepted.

People have so embraced the idea of competition and forgot that in our daily life, in most of our daily activities, what we need is to cooperate and not to compete. Why? Maybe because we want to be accepted. We want to belong. We think that to win is the only way to be cheerfully welcomed. So we compete to win.

Win-lose Attitude

In all competitions, the lingering attitude is win-lose attitude. If one has to win, the others have to lose. In chess, in football, in all other sports, win-lose attitude is the only acceptable attitude. You cannot think win-win or there will be a tie. You can never think lose-win: why in the first place did you join the competition if you prefer to lose in order for your opponent to win?

How about in beauty pageant? Isn’t It the same, all other contestants have to lose so the best is the only one to be crowned?

Let’s take a look at the school. Can you say you passed the subject if you know nobody is failing the subject? You become number one only because others are not number one. You win only because they lose.

Players compete for the trophies; contestants for the medals and recognition. Churches compete each other in terms of the volume of their members; business organizations with income and market share; celebrities and politicians for their popularity; speakers in their audience; writers compete through their published materials; bloggers with the number of their followers and hits; co-employees in terms of the favors they receive from their bosses.

Even brothers and sisters compete for their mother’s attention. The list goes on and on in an almost never-ending possibilities. One thing is sure: we always compete. We develop win-lose attitude because we have a scarcity mentality. We think that recognition is scarce—that only a few will be crowned. But we, as a society are the very ones who created the idea that only the best will be recognized. We become afraid of our own shadow.

Survival

Why do we compete too much? Maybe one reason is survival. But wait, isn’t it that people will have greater chance of survival when they cooperate instead of compete?

Survival may have a point of argument. Two people starving to death will surely compete for a piece of bread or for a few drops of water, otherwise, they both die. Granted. Well, that maybe accepted if the case is a matter of life and death. But in the office, at home, in school, most of our situations are not a matter of life-and-death situation. Then why do we compete? Why do we always want to be ahead of others?

When then?

I believe competition is good and healthy if and only if we can keep it inside its appropriate venue. In sports and entertainment, competition is healthy and fun. It helps the players to be responsible for their development. But in the office, in the church, in school, it becomes ineffective, counterproductive, sometimes even dangerous.

In most cases in our daily living, to cooperate is more needed and more appropriate than to compete. Let us keep competition within the boundaries of sports, and within the confines of the entertainment world.

We really want to compete? Try the following mentality and we will never run out of worthwhile competitions:

If I can defeat others, I am strong; if I can defeat myself, I am stronger.

Why is that?

Because the greatest battle we can ever have is within.

Just Like That

The first time I watched the movie Forrest Gump many years ago, I thought it was just an adventure story that luckily won 6 Academy Awards. When I watched it again a few days ago I have gained an expanded insight about grace…about how scandalous grace is.

Watching Forrest Gump again also deepened my understanding of the implications of grace in the daily basis, and once again threatened my strong sense of “deservingness.”

Forrest was not a matinee idol. He was a subject of ridicule for the educated, for the smart, for those people who think they are better than him. Forrest was a subject of irritation for Jenny, his girl who doesn’t want to be rescued and insisted that he doesn’t understand what love is.

Forrest was a subject of hatred and envy, and the cause of disappointment to his former lieutenant, who even labeled him “a moron who appears in the TV and makes fun of himself.” He was called “stupid” by his school mates, and considered as “local idiot” by a coach. He was supposed to be nothing—a nobody…an undeserving.

To many, Forrest is below normal, having low IQ, and a living joke of the town. He is not entitled to be popular, to be adored or even to be lucky. He doesn’t have what it takes.

But Forrest was graced. He is more than lucky, he is graced beyond belief. His life was full of unexpected thrill, unbelievable blessings, indescribable delight and fulfillment.

Just Like That?

Forrest Gump has become like a classic movie now. Maybe because deep within our hearts, we long to receive what Forrest received despite our strong denial of our own unworthiness. We still long for some kind of unexpected delight, a surprise gift, an extravagant blessing, something that we don’t have to earn, something free. Just like that!

I have noticed in the movie that Forrest, as he narrates his life, has a habit of asking, “Can you believe that?” and a habit of exclaiming, “Just like that!” Have you noticed that too in the movie?

As I ponder more about it, I realized: grace is “just like that!” no works required, no strings attached, no payment to follow, no conditions to keep. Can you believe that?

The movie begins and ends with a feather “so light no one knows where it might land,” remarks Philip Yancey. And indeed, it landed in front of a low IQ, undeserving man. Just Like that! The undeserving boy who had a back “as crooked as a politician” becomes the fastest runner in his place, in his time. The low IQ, below normal student, later received a Medal of Honor, became pingpong champion, invited by the President of the U.S. more than once, and gathered followers from the street as he ran during the time when he just felt like running. Run Forrest, run!

Being so graced, Forrest became a living dispenser of grace—the one who truly understands what love is, knows what it means to be loyal, and exemplifies the virtue of forgiveness. “No Forrest, you don’t know what love is!” his unfaithful Jenny accused him just after he rescued her. No Jenny, you’re wrong, Forrest knows exactly what love is. And he’s demonstrating it all the time.

The concept of grace awakens in us an excruciatingly painful realization that in the eyes of God, we stand in common ground. No one is holier or more deserving. No one can boast. No one is better. We are all the same. We all sinned. This implies that we cannot or should not compare ourselves with others in terms of “being deserving.”

Grace challenges our most embraced self-deceptive lie: that we are more deserving of praise, of reward, of recognition, of heaven…than others. Grace opens our eyes so we can see that grace doesn’t choose based on performance, that, like the feather in the beginning and end of the movie, it may land to anybody regardless of status and intelligence, of titles and ranks. Just like that!

In my last post, Unlikely Protagonist, I explored about how I normally identify myself with the protagonist whenever I watch movies. And I seldom recognize that in front of God or perhaps with other people, I more resemble the antagonists than the protagonist.

Now, looking in ourselves with grace-filled lenses in our hearts, we come in contact—face to face—with the our true status before God. Because of our realization, we no longer identify with the protagonist whenever we watch movies. Instead, we realize that in God’s perspective we resemble the antagonists, the sinners, the undeserving. But we are being accepted—just like that!

Like Forrest, this grace lens helps us to be compassionate with others, to be forgiving, to dispense grace to the undeserving, to be humble. Because of grace we become slow in judging others—believing that the grace of God will land to them as it did to Forrest Gump, free of charge, no works required, no merits to be earned, no diplomas or certificates to boast, no strings attached…all is free. Just like that! Can you believe that?

 

Unlikely Protagonist

I always feel guilty when after watching a movie—any movie, regardless of whether it’s war, detective, suspense, romance, even fictions with superheroes—I realize that I always identify myself so tightly with the protagonist. Within two to three hours of watching I can unconsciously convince myself that I, I am the starring model, the hero, the one who is always right, the one who needs a standing ovation—a never ending applause.

How many time I have secretly become Superman, Batman, James Bond, Jacky Chan or Jet Lee. In many movies, I am quick to identify myself with the Denzel Washington character, with Robert Redford, with Tom Hanks, with Morgan Freeman…with whoever the protagonist is. Every time I watch I become the starring idol—at least that’s how I feel inside—but never have I become the Lex Luthor, or the Darth Vader.

I would always want to think that the protagonist resembles me, and that I resemble him. I have never yet watched a movie where I have immediately seen my very tight connection with the antagonist—the envy brother, the terrorist, the robber, the traitor, the murderer. Always, just always, I see the antagonist as the opposite of me. I am not “that kind of man” I never do the things like that.

That very thinking continues to actively play its role even when I am reading the Bible. When Moses splits the Red Sea and performs many miracles, I can quickly see myself as little Moses in my little chair. Never have I thought—not a single moment—that I am the Pharaoh or that I am like him. No! It’s impossible, I am too righteous!

Reading the triumphs of King David helps me quickly boost my confidence. Yet not once did I ever think of how close my attitude is with the antagonist King Saul. No! It can’t be, I am too holy!

That’s why it gives me difficulty to relate to many of Jesus’ stories. That’s why Jesus’ parables have very little positive effect on me. That’s why I always miss the point. Because, in Jesus’ parables, the undeserving become the center of the story, the protagonist, the starring actor or actress, the matinee idol. Jesus has a habit of making an unexpected twist in his stories by picking up the “undeserving” as his star.

Jesus’ stories provoke my self-righteousness, my sense of pride and arrogance, my rage. It challenges my strong and very stiff idea of “who is deserving and who is not.”

How can I relate to the Prodigal Son’s story if the star is someone who doesn’t resemble my obedience? How can I understand the parable of “the workers in the vineyard” if I think I am not as lazy as the workers who worked last and got the same amount of money? How can I understand why Jesus forgave the thief on the cross if I don’t think I am as unable to earn forgiveness as that thief?

I still remember what happened after one Filipino celebrity accepted the role of an antagonist in our local TV Series entitled Mara and Clara. In the story, Mara is the lovely, meek, intelligent young beautiful woman who is so loved by many. Her half sister is Clara—the super antagonist who’s full of envy, bitterness, contempt, hostility, and resentment. In the center of all her negative blending emotions is her half-sister Mara.

The TV Series was so captivating that the viewers immediately identified themselves with Mara, the protagonist. Unconsciously, they have developed hatred to one of the undeserving, irritating, infuriating antagonist. The worse part is that people become so enraged that even in real life they started to threaten the actress who plays the role of one of the antagonists in the story. They did not realize that she was just playing a role in a TV series, and that the protagonist was her true friend in real life.

Like the antagonist in the movie, some viewers become too consumed by their hatred and hostility against the innocent celebrity who was just acting on camera. The worse thing is that these people aren’t aware that in their raging contempt and hostility toward the antagonistic role, they become the antagonist in real life. Eaten up by their self-righteousness, they become blind that as they pursue a virtual monster they are becoming real monsters themselves.

The real good person has been receiving death threats from people who are consumed by the false notion that they themselves are the true good people. These people were infuriated by the role of the antagonist.

Why?

Because they have identified themselves so tightly with the story’s protagonist. They become the unlikely protagonist.

Pride, Arrogance and Forgiveness


To be painfully honest, I struggle with my own silent pride everyday. I always need to take extra effort in reminding myself that I am not “more profound” than others…that I’m not better.

Another article from Enough Light reminds me of what a pastor told me about why arrogant people are not in heaven while all other sinners are there. I still remember how it goes. Let me convert the pastor’s voice in written words. I hope I can achieve the same effect.

“Did you know that heaven is populated by ALL kinds of sinners, except for one type?


Murderers, rapist, liars, thieves, adulterers, robbers, swindlers, and all other sorts of sinners can be seen in heaven, except for one group: the arrogant and the prideful people.”

Then the pastor explained further,

“All those sinners got a realistic view of themselves and their standing with God. Their realization brought them to confess and repent. Through faith, they were welcomed by the grace of God in heaven.”

However, the group of arrogant people couldn’t even believe the notion that they are in need…and that they need to be saved. They are not accustomed to the belief that they are “not better” than others. They have a very distorted view of themselves. The idea that “we stand in common ground” infuriates their hearts. They would not accept that, like all of us, they are sinners and that they need forgiveness. They are consumed by their wrong sense of SUPER-superiority. That’s why not a single one of them made it to heaven.”

For a fortifying closing, the pastor reminded me by explaining the concept of forgiveness,

“Remember, except for angels, the population of heaven is comprised of FORGIVEN people. Arrogant people cannot accept FORGIVENESS because in the first place, they don’t believe they are wrong. And forgiveness, even if it’s offered to you, it will not have any power unless you receive it in your heart.”

“And the only way to receive it in your heart is first, to get rid of your own arrogance and pride, and second, to believe that you will be forgiven.”

The pastor’s simplified explanation left me pondering about the connection of FORGIVENESS and PRIDE. Forgiveness is a two-way street. To complete the loop, both are needed: first, it should be offered; and then, it should be received. The good thing is, God’s FORGIVENESS has already been offered more than 2,000 years ago. To complete the crucial loop, only the other step is left. We just need to RECEIVE it. And the only thing that prevents us from receiving it is our own pride and arrogance.

Arrogant and prideful people do not know how to forgive; and they do not know how to be forgiven either.

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This post is a response to a friends post in ENOUGH LIGHT article titled, “The perils of self-deception…what are your spiritual blind spots?? Part 2.”

Insulted

When we become more concerned about being right than about what is right…

One morning I was having a casual yet profound talk with a very close friend of mine when we came across with the word “insulted.”

When I said to my friend that, “When we feel insulted, most of the time it is because of our pride,” I received a not-so-welcoming face. I knew instantly that she was not agreeing with what I was saying. I know her. And I knew that in this conversation, we have different beliefs.

“Insult is about pride,” I said to her. “If we don’t have pride, we will never feel insulted.”

The more I said another word, the more she threw a kind of smile that says, “Please…I don’t agree with what you’re saying, but I’m polite enough to listen.” I knew she was not agreeing, but she had an open mind. And indeed she was polite and gracious to listen up.

Very quickly, I silently put my feet into her shoes and tried to imagine as hard as I could about any instance when a person will be insulted and still say that the insult was not about himself. Very quickly I tried as hard as I could to recall any instance when a person got a feeling of being insulted and can still proudly say that the insult he felt had nothing to do with his sense of pride. Very quickly and very silently I tried many things to justify the thought, but I failed.

So I explained further. This time I backed up my statement with a personal humbling experience. I narrated to her how one time I told two of my students when I caught them chatting during my lecture, “Never insult me that way.” 

Underneath

Now, she’s not only smiling. Her previous not-so-welcoming smile transformed into a childlike face curiously awaiting for an interesting answer. Hearing me telling about my personal and naked encounter with a profound concept of pride-hiding-underneath-a-reasonable-and-justifiable-feeling-“of being insulted,” my friend became more open to listen.

“We can choose where to focus our full attention on. When we become more concerned about being right than what is right, then we are prone to feel insulted when something NOT right happened in front of us,” I told my friend. Even before I was finished, I noticed my friend softly nodding her head in sweet agreement as if discovering something that’s not obvious.

Our reaction to what is happening is mostly dictated by our focus. If we focus on ourselves being right, and when that sense of being right is challenged, we become threatened—we feel insulted.

On the other hand, if we focus on what is right, and something challenged that right thing, we don’t normally feel insulted. Instead, we become pitiful to the person who violated the right thing.

If we focus our attention to the universal truths or principles of life (which are bigger than ourselves), and then somebody violated those principles, we don’t normally feel threatened, we don’t become insulted. Rather we suddenly feel righteous anger. Suddenly we forget ourselves. The situation is no longer about us, we unconsciously think. It’s about truth—something that is bigger than us.

In my classroom experience, when I caught my two students chatting while I was lecturing, I was not actually concerned that what they were doing was wrong. I was more concerned that they were doing it to me. That’s the threatening part—“to me.” Inside me, I was arguing to my students, “I am right, you are wrong! So never do that again!”

When I went home that night and reflected on my own reaction to my students, It suddenly hit me: I was reacting not because they violated the principle of respect, but because they did it to me. I thought further…and deeper, and became brutally honest to myself and realized that I would not have reacted that way if those two students did it to other professors. Worse yet was when I realized that I would have not reacted that way if they did it to my enemies.

I was ashamed at my own discovered conclusion: I was not concerned about the truths or principles; instead, I was concerned about myself. Then I understood, I felt insulted because my focus was on myself. My emotion was driven by pride.

When we finished our casual yet profound conversation, I left my friend’s office, saying to myself, “Next time I will focus on what is right than on myself being right.

At the back my mind, I was silently thanking her for listening to me as I expressed to her my reflective thoughts.

Honest Doubt or Stubborn Skepticism?

What’s the Difference?

I am also guilty of unfairly labeling Thomas as a doubter. Growing up in a church where pastors, speakers, Bible study leaders, and other Christian friends always associated the name Thomas with the word doubt, I was influenced.

Well, in a sense, that would be just technically natural. We remember Thomas by his famous words,

Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.

His statement is found in the famous story of Jesus’ appearance in the midst of his doubting disciples after his resurrection.

But why do we single out Thomas, as if he was the only one who doubted? Didn’t every one of the remaining eleven disciples doubted Jesus’ resurrection? How about Mary while standing near Jesus grave? Didn’t she ask the gardener about the location of Jesus’ body—not recognizing (perhaps because of doubt) that the gardener she was asking was actually the Jesus she was looking for?

Yes, Thomas doubted. But wasn’t it an honest doubt?

As far as I observe, the one difference I see between Thomas and the other disciples is that Thomas vocally expressed his doubt. Like the suffering Job of the Old Testament, Thomas expressed his feeling with full honesty—a healthy characteristic that is expected of a relationship—the same characteristic that made Job become vindicated by God instead of his friends.

Thomas’ words is an expression of an honest doubt. In contrast, those Pharisees who ask Jesus tricky questions are stubborn skeptics. They don’t really look for answers. They look for ways to prove that they are better than anyone else. They are driven by arrogance not by a searching soul.

An honest doubter is thirsty. An answer quenches her thirst. A stubborn Skeptic on the other hand, is an addict: no amount of intake will satisfy—any answer we provide seems to worsen his condition. An honest doubter is confused; a stubborn skeptic has already made up his mind.

Perhaps honest doubt is a sign of genuine perplexity while stubborn skepticism is a sign of an arrogant disbelief.

I think, one very obvious difference between honest doubt and stubborn skepticism is what happens after one receives an answer. The honest doubter is transformed into becoming a fearless proclaimer—My Lord and my God!”; while the stubborn skeptic looks for another loophole, for another way to challenge, for another trick.

By the way, wasn’t Thomas the only one in the four gospels who proclaimed that Jesus is God? Perhaps that’s what happens when we deal with our honest doubts carefully.

When I encounter honest doubters, I am compassionate enough to help. They honestly thirst for answers. But the moment I notice someone asking tricky questions like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time, I just ignore them . . . for they will never be satisfied. They are not looking for answers, they are looking for arguments. I don’t want to waste my time explaining to a stubborn skeptic.

It’s okay to doubt. For it is impossible to grow faith without the element of doubt. Like the tiny mustard seed that grows into a six-feet tall plant, faith grows in the soil of doubt. There is one danger, though, when we are in time of doubt: we are prone to be attracted to the skeptics’ arguments.

I have observed people who when facing doubt, they immerse themselves deeply into more doubting questions, they entertain other doubters statements and they welcome skeptics’ arguments. No wonder they end up being skeptic as well. No wonder they never recover.

When a person is cold, he needs to cover himself with more clothes instead of removing his garments. My two younger sons are afraid of the dark. They are afraid because they remember the horror movies they watched. But the more afraid they become, the more they want to feed the cause of their fear: the more they watch horror movies. Like the person who is cold, the more they are freezing to death, the more they are removing one by one all their garments.

Some doubters are like my sons, the more they doubt, the more they entertain the already attractive skeptic’s faulty arguments. Instead of carefully looking for answers, they entertain themselves with more skeptical questions and proofs that support their doubt.

For many years in my Christian life, I always swing back and forth between strong faith and crippling doubts. Every time I experience doubts, I express it to my family and non-condemning friends, and then I immerse myself to other facts that will help me recover. At the same time, I avoid skeptics’ words, for they will not help.

After recovering from doubts, I always end up fearlessly proclaiming, My Lord and my God!”

Unnatural, Unfair, Beyond Logic

I once heard a sermon about grace. The person who explained, did it so eloquently that the message never left my memory even though I already forgot the name of the speaker. He described grace in light of two other concepts: pardon and forgiveness.

A decade later, when my thirteen-year-old son asked me to explain what grace is, I felt equipped to at least retell it just how it left impact on me when I first heard it. Using my own words and style, I retold the message to my son describing grace side by side with pardon and forgiveness. Here, I attempt to convert the message into written words.

Pardon. When a man murders the son of another man, and the offender is accused in the court, he has to face judgement. If the father of the victim withdrew his charge and asked the judge not to punish the murderer, that’s pardon. He is asking the judge to pardon his offender because he cannot pardon the offender by himself. Pardoning is not in his authority; it is up to the judge, or even someone higher.

Although the word pardon in the dictionary is defined as “the action of forgiving or being forgiven for an error or offense,” the focus is on the action not on forgiveness. Often we pardon somebody without forgiveness in our heart. We fake it. We do that simply for publicity—to display our action, not really to forgive and forget; we do that to show others what a “forgiving” person we are, that we are kind. In that case, pardoning becomes superficial, meaningless…sort of hypocrisy.

Forgiveness. If pardon is the icon, forgiveness is the substance. Pardon is external; forgiveness is internal. Forgiveness is the reason why we pardon. But more frequently we pardon just to show off our “goodness,” not really to forgive.

An in-law told me of a true story of a farmer in their province whose son was murdered by his neighbor. In the court, they settled everything amicably in front of the judge. The offender offered one million pesos to the farmer and he accepted it. Few weeks later, the neighbor’s son was also murdered. The main suspect, obviously, was the farmer’s family. They were taking revenge.

Back in the court, the farmer returned the one million pesos that he received when they first settled “everything” in the court.

Now both neighbors lost a family member, both fathers lost a son. None of them went to jail; both parties settled “everything” in the eyes of superficial forgiveness—of pardoning the offender but not forgiving them in their heart.

I can always pardon a person yet not forgive him. Likewise, I can also forgive a person, yet not pardon him. The father could have forgiven the offender in his heart and yet still asked for justice, letting the murderer be punished in jail for the sake of justice.

Pardon is the surface; forgiveness is the core, it is why we pardon. Forgiveness is the cause, pardon is one of the effects. Pardon is the icon; forgiveness is its substance. Pardon is a matter of the written laws; forgiveness is a matter of the hearts. Pardon can be faked; forgiveness, not.

Grace. Pardon is about the externals; forgiveness, the internals; grace is about the merging of justice and forgiveness in one ironic act. Grace is the convergence of two conflicting truths into one painful sacrifice.

That makes grace to be the most difficult to comprehend, the hardest to preach and teach, the most difficult to explain, and definitely the toughest one to live.

According to Philip Yancey, grace is something that contradicts our common sense, violates our human instincts, and defy our logic. I agree.

When a man murders the son of another man, and the offender is accused in the court, as I said earlier, he has to face judgement. And if the father withdrew his charge and asked the judge not to punish the murderer, that’s pardon. Yet, if the father shifted his focus from the law to the matters of his heart by absolving the offender, he’s forgiving.

Now, if the father, in a bitter twist, instead of demanding justice for his son, offered himself to be punished in place of his son’s murderer, and then offered the murderer to be the heir of his wealth, business, and all of his properties (realizing that his son is already dead), that—as painful as it may—is true grace.

By offering himself in place of the offender, he is satisfying justice and extending forgiveness at the same time, merging it in one act called grace.

How can I fathom the depth of this teaching? I may ask, “Who in the world, and in his right logical mind, would offer himself to be punished in place of his son’s murderer, and offer all his wealth to be inherited by the same murderer?” Is it logical or at least fair to promote the one who deserves to be demoted?

Of course not. But grace is not about logic, nor it’s about fairness.

We, fair-minded people are often infuriated by such stories. We want fairness, justice, equality. At most, we want revenge. At least, we want people to “receive exactly what they deserve, nothing more, nothing less.” We concentrate on our human rights—right to speak, right to express, right to take revenge.

We don’t want the undeserving to receive what he doesn’t deserve, much more to receive the very opposite of what he deserves.

We don’t promote employees who deserve to be demoted, nor we give first price to the weakest player in the tournament. No, we don’t give honor medals to the lowest ranking students nor we bestow the heirship or inheritance to the murderer of our sons. We don’t reward the unscrupulous; we punish them.

Given a choice between justice and grace, we tend to choose justice, for we are all accustomed to it. Justice, for us, is the natural thing, the logical choice, the fair option.

Yet, in the Bible, we see a very clear condition. We are the undeserving, the offenders, the sinners. All of us don’t deserve heaven, instead we deserve hell. But what happened? Jesus Christ accepted the death penalty for us so we become heirs of his father. Transferring the sonship to us and accepting the penalty for our sins, we become heirs to his father’s wealth while he suffers for us. Jesus’ life shows us what grace is.

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Daily Encounters. In the day to day reality of our lives, we prefer justice to grace. We think we don’t need grace because we don’t understand it. It is difficult to grasp.

Grace becomes incomprehensible if we see ourselves as perfect, blameless individuals. If we are too proud of our titles, of our accomplishments, of our medals and academic degrees, of everything that we have earned, if we become too proud, and have an unrealistic view of ourselves—believing that we are holier, better, kinder, humbler, and more deserving than others, then grace becomes too difficult to understand. If in case we understand it, it even becomes too hard to swallow.

If we don’t see ourselves as sinners, we tend to choose justice instead of grace. If we don’t see our own imperfections and shortcomings, we “logically” choose justice.

Pride and arrogance fool us and cloud our vision so fiercely that we cannot see the images of grace. Because of pride, we want to earn everything, including grace. But grace cannot be earned.

In the realms of grace, no one is deserving; we stand in common ground. Indeed, grace is unnatural, unfair, and beyond logic.