One of the scripts that plays every day in our minds is the script titled, "I Don't Deserve This." You are familiar with this script. It plays in your mind. It will play today, if it has not already.
When your wife fails to appreciate your efforts in providing financially for the family, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." When your husband fails to attend to your needs with tenderness and sincerity, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." When your employer fails to acknowledge your value and contribution, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." When your children disrespect your place as parent and regard your wisdom as foolishness, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." Children, when your parents exasperate you with suspicious questioning and disengaged busyness, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." Christian, when your neighbors mock you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this." When the world crashes down around you under the weight of taxation, disease and catastrophe, you hear in your mind: "I don't deserve this!"
The script, of course, is wrong. It is not speaking the truth of God to you. The truth is you deserve much worse.
The truth is that as disobedient sinners and as transgressors of the law and as saboteurs of heaven's peace and as defamers of glory we deserve much worse. The truth is that the troubles and trials of our lives should be multiplied by ten-thousand and remain upon us forever and ever. That would be hell. Every mortal one of us has fallen short of God's glory and every mortal one of us deserves not only to slip and fall into hell but to be deliberately sent there and kept there forever by God himself as a just expression of His wrath.
"I don't deserve this" is a lie. I deserve much worse is the truth.
But this is also God's truth: Because of Jesus you and I won't be receiving what we deserve. This is amazing grace! Because God's Christ has been crucified for sinners, your troubles will not be multiplied by ten-thousand and remain upon you forever and ever. This is grace. All the trouble you rightly deserve from the Most High God fell upon his beloved Son, Jesus, the only man who could ever truthfully say, "I don't deserve this."
As the Apostle's Creed rightly says, Jesus descended into hell for you. This is grace. The one man whom God has appointed to judge the world, to give us all what we rightly deserve, he has been made a sacrifice for our sins. This is grace. From the one person that matters, the Redeemer King, from the one person who could give us every last bit of what our evil deserves, we already now are receiving what we do not deserve: the adoption as sons, a divine title, and an everlasting inheritance as co-heirs with Christ. This is grace.
Now when this grace grips your heart and mind two significant things begin to happen. First, that loud and frequent lie - "I don't deserve this!" - becomes quiet and sparse. Now that grace is becoming the ground upon which you stand (Romans 5:2), the so-called "fairness lies" of Satan are more vividly grotesque and you begin to have ears for Jesus when he says, "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles" (Matt. 5:39-41).
When grace gets underfoot, you're on your way down a path of becoming a merciful person toward all those who sin against you - sins against your cheek, sins against your tunic, and sins against your feet. Grace reminds you in the moment that Jesus has been so radically merciful toward your own steady flow of sins against him and you begin to give more than you demand.
The second thing that happens when grace grips your heart is the mental script changes. At first we might think the script changes to, "I do deserve this." But that isn't right either. If we simply write over the old mental script that said, "I don't deserve this!" with "I do deserve this!" then we will begin to think our own suffering pays for our sins. We will think we must silently suffer the sins of our husbands and wives and children and world so we can some how pay off or pay down what we rightly deserve from God as sinners. We will live in shame, believing a new lie that says, "I must let people trample me and treat me badly so I can pay for my sins." But this is not the Gospel. You can't pay for past sins by letting people sin against you. Jesus has paid for your sins once and for all.
When others sin against you, the script of grace isn't, "I don't deserve this!" nor is it, "I do deserve this!" but it is, "Jesus doesn't deserve this!" All sin is against the Lord. When I begin to see this, then I am refreshed again in how kind he is and has been to me and my sinning and his kindness keeps me from wanting to add my own new sins to the sin of others by being stingy and hard-hearted and unforgiving.
When I see that it is Jesus who doesn't deserve the sin that is pressing on my life, then I can do something other than run, hide, or hit other sinners like me in the face. I can speak the truth in love and stay and wait.
When the script becomes "Jesus doesn't deserve this!" I begin to transform into the most unnatural kind of person: a person who can't help but speak out against sin and injustice but also a person who can't help but hang in there with the worst of sinners to see them reconciled and renewed by the grace that reconciled and renewed me.
Such care of sinners is how you have been cared for by the Savior. It is the care of redeeming grace.