The Parable of the Landscapper
Behold, a Landscaper pulled up to a busy intersection where there was a scruffy looking man holding up a cardboard sign that read, “Hungry. Looking for Work.” The Landscaper rolled down his window and motioned for the man to come over. He said to the man, “Do you have a phone?” “Yes”, replied the man. “Here is my card. Go take a drug test and I will give you job. I’m actually pretty staffed up, but I’m willing to help out someone who is willing to work.” The scruffy man said belligerently, “I’ll be happy to come work for you, but I’m not going to take any drug test.” “The offer stands, anytime!”, replied the Landscaper with hope. As the light turned green and the Landscaper began to move along he noticed the scruffy man toss the business card to the ground in disgust. The scruffy man said, “Can’t believe that lousy landscaper wouldn’t give me a job.”
Was the Landscaper unwilling to give the man a job, or did the scruffy man refuse to accept the Landscaper’s offer?
Because the Landscaper put a stipulation (qualification) on getting the job (taking a drug test), did that make the Landscaper’s offer any less gracious? Was it still grace?
I think anyone in their right mind (and I emphasize “right”) would agree that the Landscaper did offer the man a job and that the man refused it, and would also agree that just because there was a stipulation attached (taking the drug test) the job was still a gift, it was still unmerited favor, it was still grace.
People often want grace, but we want it on our terms. Perhaps that is entitlement, perhaps it is pride, or perhaps it is something else. But much like the 2-year old who wants ice cream but is unwilling to pick up the mess they made to get the ice cream, so we too can act like a 2 year old sometimes when it comes to God’s grace. We want it on our terms. We throw a tantrum if we can’t have it on our terms. We are mad at God unless He extends us His grace on our terms.
Though there are many examples in the Bible of these principles on grace, consider just one - Naaman. Naaman in II Kings 5 was a valiant general who had leprosy. He went down to Israel for a cure from the prophet of God, Elisha. Elisha sent a servant to tell him go dip seven times in the Jordan and be cured. Rather than accept God’s grace, Naaman went away angry with his own idea of how he should cleansed. He wanted grace on his terms! Thankfully his companions convinced him to accept God’s grace on God’s terms. Naaman repented, was baptized seven times in the Jordan River, and was cleansed. There’s at least 2 applications for us to consider here.
First, becoming a Christian. How many people want to become a Christian, they just want to do it their way? They just want to “say this prayer”, or just “accept Jesus into my heart”, or just “believe Jesus is the Son of God” and be saved. But the Bible teaches that to become a Christian, and receive the grace of salvation on God’s terms means hearing (Rom. 10:17), believing (Mark 16:16), confessing (Rom. 10:10), repenting (Acts 2:38), and being baptized (Matt. 28:20; Mk 16:16; Acts 2:38). Many people won’t do that. How many of those will also blame God for not giving them grace?
Second, being a Christian. Many believe once they’ve accepted Jesus into their heart they are saved and can go on living however they want and living in sin. But Jesus says, “Be faithful until death and you shall receive the crown on life.” (Rev. 2:10) Once again, people don’t want grace on God’s terms, but on their own terms.
If we are unwilling to accept grace on God’s terms then in our heart we are truly no different than the scruffy man in the parable or a belligerent stubborn 2 year old. Let’s mature, be right-minded (righteous), and accept God’s grace on God’s terms.