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But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without hoping to get anything back. Then you will have a great reward, and you will be children of the Most High God, because he is kind even to people who are ungrateful and full of sin. Luke 6:35 (NCV)

Ten lepers approached Jesus one day (Luke 17). There’s more to the story than what is just written in Luke’s account of the gospel. Lepers were forbidden to approach anyone. Those who got close to lepers were considered unclean. But Jesus took a chance on them, he told them to go to the priest and show themselves to him. On the way they were miraculously healed. Only one of the men returned to thank Jesus for all he’d done.

So, what happened to the other nine? We aren’t told but I think I know. They went on their way, just like 90% of the people you may know who never think to say thank you. In God’s kingdom he doesn’t expect anything from those who he shows grace too. We can’t earn his favor, nor can we repay him once we’ve accepted the gift of healing. The only thing we can do is what the one leper did; we can praise God for his free gift.

How does that relate to our lives as Christ-followers? It’s human nature to gravitate towards those who treat us kindly. We may do favors for people with no expectation of return, but we are far more likely to continue to give to those who give back in some way. It’s draining to always give and never get anything, even a thank you, in return. Yet that is precisely what Jesus teaches us to do. Lend with no expectation of being repaid. Notice the wording. Lending implies repayment by its very definition. If repayment isn’t expected it’s not lending, it’s giving.

That’s what grace is all about. Giving with no expectation of return. Grace is being kind to others when you know that they won’t show any gratitude and may even return your kindness with abuse.

Yet another dichotomy in the life of the believer. Giving grace to the undeserving. But grace by definition is showing kindness when it’s not deserved and will never be returned. Your Father did that for you when he sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross. He extended kindness to you when he knew you were undeserving and could never repay him. Yet he reached out to you in spite of yourself.

How can you show grace to someone today? It can’t be done in your own power. It can’t be done with expectation of gratitude or reward. In fact, the opposite is true. Showing grace to those who don’t deserve it is the best way to show Jesus to those who need him.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the example you gave us of the lepers. They were completely unable to repay you for the grace and healing to offered them, yet you healed them. Most of them were ungrateful, yet you gave with no expectation of reward. Empower me with your Spirit to show that kind of grace to those who need the forgiveness and healing only you can give. Amen.

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February 2012
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