All too often, before a championship game one of the players being interviewed says something to the effect of, “We have worked harder than anybody else and overcome all sorts of adversity all season. We deserve this title. We deserve to win.” Meanwhile on another channel, a player from the opposing team is saying, “We are dedicated to being the best. We have come together as a team and put it all out there every time, every game. We deserve that trophy. We deserve the championship. We deserve to win.”
This concept of deserving things seems to be everywhere. Beauty pageant contestants are asked by the judges, “Why do you deserve to win?” Scholarships ask students to answer the essay question, “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” Reality TV show participants talk about why they deserve to stay and who deserves to be sent home instead. Politicians try to get votes by telling you what you deserve and promise that if elected, they’ll give it to you. But really, let’s be honest: who hasn’t felt like they deserve a raise, a better job, a better car, a better house, or some other aspect of a better life? We are all guilty of those moments of selfishness, are we not? We feel like we’ve been held back or held down or worked harder than anyone else or suffered some wrongdoing for so long that we deserve some sort of justice, right?
But did the King of Kings deserve to be born into poverty, in a manger surrounded by cattle and manure? Did the only begotten Son of the God of the Universe deserve to be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver? Did the Lord of Lords deserve to be scourged, mocked, and spit upon? Did the Christ deserve to be crucified by the very people he came to save? Truly, as sinners, the only thing we really deserve is death. As Saint Paul says in Romans 6, “For the wages of sin is death.” But he continues: “But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
This begs the question: Why?
We are constantly reminded of God’s mercy and His forgiveness. But when we feel like we deserve bigger, better, or more, we stop being thankful for God’s grace and the blessings He gives us. Have we changed at all since the Jews in exile with Moses when in one breath we thank Him for our daily bread, and in the next breath we complain that we don’t have meat to go with it?
So after all our grumbling, why does God give us this free gift of eternal life? It’s certainly not because we deserve it. For that matter, why does God bless us with anything we have? After all, we keep sinning over, and over, and over again. Yet He keeps blessing us over, and over, and over again. Every day that we wake up is a blessing. And every day after we wake up, we mess up again. Sometimes big, sometimes small, but pretty much every day we mess up something. And God keeps blessing us through His grace for the simple reason that He loves us.
The only one who truly deserves anything good is God. He deserves our praise for His greatness. He deserves our appreciation for trusting us with talents to invest for Him. He deserves our heartfelt sorrow when we fail Him. He deserves all of our time, talent, and treasure. He deserves our respect for being God. He deserves our thanks for all He decides to bless us with, no matter what it is, whether in abundance or in absence, because it’s part of His plan. And most of all, He deserves our love. After all, if He can love us enough to continue to bless us despite of our failings, doesn’t He deserve it?