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Lately I find myself troubled by the way some companies market their products. In the past, companies took decency and the common good into consideration, or at least paid lip service to them, when selling a product. Today, that is less and less the case.
Some advertisements are especially aggravating. While not particularly indecent, the wording used in credit advertisements concerns me. These ads speak of giving people “the credit they deserve.” Such seems to imply mat the ability to buy something now and pay for it later is an inherent, God-given right, like life and liberty. This is a cavalier use of the word deserve. Such usage leads us to think we deserve all manner of things: new houses, new cars, better jobs, no pain, no condemnations, and so forth.
Knowing what we truly deserve is essential for grasping a central motif in the Scriptures. That is why using the word deserve so carelessly is a problem. Unless we understand what we truly deserve, we cannot understand grace.
David’s actions in 1 Samuel 30 illustrate grace well. David pursues the Amalekites in order to rescue a group of captured Israelites. But his army, six hundred men strong, becomes smaller when two hundred men have to stop and rest. The remaining men rescue the captives, but David unexpectedly distributes the spoil evenly among those who fought and those who stayed behind.
Is this distribution equitable? No. The men who stayed behind made little, if any, contribution to the rescue. But lest we think that more spoil should go to the men who fought, note that many of them fought with impure motives. They were motivated by money, not by love for their covenant brothers. These men also deserve nothing, but gracious David gives spoil to both undeserving groups.
We are like this army. We stay behind when there is work to be done. We pursue kingdom goals with impure motives. We deserve no blessing. Rather, all we deserve is condemnation.
But we also serve a gracious king. Like David, Christ rewards those with impure motives and half-hearted commitments. And unlike David, Christ is always gracious. He never abandons His elect army. He never puts His well-being above that of His nation, the church. And His blessings are much greater, to be found both now and in our lives in the age to come. May this grace be the motivation both for our worship and service.