Everyday on thousands upon thousands of people tune into Dave Ramsey and listen to him say his tagline almost every time he answers a phone call by answering the now famous phrase “Better than I deserve”. I adopted a variation of this response, much to my wives chagrin, and use it almost everyday. Most people when they first hear this response are surprised, then they will respond with something like “No, you do deserve what you have.” A young lady who says that she is a believer in Christ, by far, uttered the most annoying retort. While at work I said my usual response to the everyday pleasantries, she stopped me and asked if I was a Christian I answered yes. She answered by saying since I was a “child of the King I deserve” So I wanted to spend a quick minute defining some terms.
De·serve: to have earned or be worthy of something, in other words merited favor
Grace: the infinite love, mercy, favor, and goodwill shown to humankind by God, in other words unmerited favor.
C. J. Mahaney (who first made this a popular term) is famous for making it a habit to answer, “Better than I deserve.” As I think about my life, I am more and more convinced that is true of me. It’s strange how often we allow ourselves to compare our situations with some imaginary perfect one and get dissatisfied. But when I stop and think about it, I am very fortunate.
My job is far better than I deserve—allowing me to spend time with the family God has given me—that is in itself much better than I deserve. I earn enough to pay the bills, and yet like so many of us, I sometimes fall into the trap of thinking “just a little more would be enough . . .” My wife truly is my best friend, and is more understanding towards me than my treatment of her warrants. Most of the time my child is obedient and a delight to have around.
I live in a far better home than most, even in this country, let alone in the rest of the world—it, too, is better than I deserve. Of course, the next breath that I am going to take is not something that is mine by right, any more than the pulsing of my heart is anything that I have done something to earn. So being allowed to live—let alone being saved by the sacrifice of Jesus—is much, much, more than I deserve.
So given all these things for which I have to be grateful, why is it that the quality and extent of my worship of Jesus remains so much less than He deserves from me? To be honest I’m not sure but I do know that my worship of Christ, in my life, emanates from right theology about Him and knowing my place within His Kingdom. I pray that we begin to try and grasp at His grace on our lives and that we truly deserve nothing that He grants us.
“Total depravity is the only doctrine that we have thousands of years of history to support it.” – G.K. Chesterton