Better Than I Deserve

We’re so used to being lied to that we’re suspicious of the gospel—like it’s too good to be true. You know: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.”

“What’s the catch?”

There is none!

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confi­dence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, emphasis added). To a devout Jew, the notion of unhindered access to God is scandalous. Yet that access is ours, freely. Because of Christ’s work, God’s door is always open to us.

True grace undercuts not only self-righteousness, but also self-sufficiency. God often brings us to a point where we have no place to turn but to Him. As with manna, He always gives us enough but not too much. He doesn’t let us store up grace. We have to go back for it, fresh, every day, every hour.

Whenever I ask, “How are you doing?” my friend C. J. responds, “Better than I deserve.”

It’s not just a cute remark. He means it. And he’s right. We don’t deserve God’s daily graces, big or small.

The Roman centurion sent word to Jesus: “I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.... I did not even consider myself worthy to come to you” (Luke 7:6–7).

Living by grace means affirming daily our unworthiness. We are never thankful for what we think we deserve. We are deeply thankful for what we know we don’t deserve.

When you know you deserve eternal hell, it puts a “bad day” in perspective! If you realize you’re undeserving, suddenly the world comes alive—you’re surprised and grateful at God’s many kindnesses that were invisible when you thought you deserved better. Instead of drowning in self-pity, you’re floating on a sea of gratitude.

When I sense that I’m unworthy—and I often do—I’m sensing the truth. I don’t need you to talk me out of my unworthiness. I need you to talk me into humbly setting it before Christ and asking Him to empower me. Yes, I cling to the reality that I’m a new person, covered in Christ’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:17–21). But the same Paul who told us that also said, “I am less than the least of all God’s people” (Ephesians 3:8).

Pride is a heavy burden. There is nothing like that feeling of lightness when God graciously lifts our self-illusions from our shoulders. Even refusing to forgive ourselves is an act of pride—it’s making ourselves and our sins bigger than God and His grace.

Are we trying to atone for our sins? We can’t. Only Jesus can, and He already did.

Don’t try to repeat the atonement—just accept it! Embrace God’s forgiveness.

Relax. Rejoice.


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Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries