People sometimes struggle to understand God's grace. Grace is unmerited favor. It describes God's unconditional love and kindness to people. They do not earn it. They cannot purchase it. Nor can they lose it.
Surely there's a catch. When a person trusts in Jesus' substitutionary death on behalf of their sins, they are simply forgiven? They are declared righteous? They are adopted into God's family? They get to live forever with God in glory? And this is all free? The answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES!
This grace should not surprise us, at least not if we are familiar with the rest of the Bible. God works in patterns for His people throughout all of the pages of Scripture. His grace is evident in every book and in every epoch of human history.
For example, in the book of Exodus the Israelites, God's chosen people, were enslaved to the Egyptians. God was orchestrating a miraculous salvation for his people. An interesting detail mentioned is that the Egyptians lavished the Israelites with their own riches as the Israelites were on their way out the door.
The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing. And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. (Exodus 12:35-36 ESV)
That's pretty cool. The slaves are leaving town and their masters are just handing them all their wealth. I used to view this as just an interesting little tidbit from the Exodus account, but as we read on in Scripture, we see God establishing a pattern of giving His people riches they did not earn.
As we move on through the canon, we see this pattern repeated. Before God brought the Israelites into the Promised land, He reminded them that he was giving them a land they did not earn. They would live in houses that they did not build. They would drink out of wells they did not dig. They would reap the fruit from vineyards and olive trees they did not plant (Deuteronomy 6:11). Again and again, God lavishes His people with unearned riches.
God's grace is manifested again to His people as they were preparing to come back to the land of Canaan after exile in Babylon. In a surprising act, Cyrus the King of Persia declared that the Israelites could go back to their land. The Lord stirred up the king's spirit and led him to declare:
Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the LORD, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.” (Ezra 1:3-4 ESV)
The pattern is clear: God grants undeserved riches and blessings upon His people. We Christians today take our place in God's story. We too are recipients of God's amazing grace through Jesus. Only God does not guarantee us physical land, earthly wealth, or the favor of kings. He gives us something much greater and far more valuable. Through faith in Jesus, God gives us an eternal country, a heavenly wealth, and the favor of the King of the Universe. These are blessings we did not earn and could never deserve. In Jesus, God has lavished His unsearchable riches upon us (Ephesians 3:8).