‘I know what he is thinking,’ said the King, looking upon the Queen. ‘He is thinking that you suffered and strove and I have a world for my reward.’ Then he turned to Ransom and continued. ‘You are right,’ he said, ‘I know now what they say in your world about justice. And perhaps they say well, for in that world things always fall below justice. But Maledil always goes above it. All is gift. I am Oyarsa not by His gift alone but by our foster mother’s, not by hers alone but by yours, not by yours alone but by my wife’s - nay, in some sort, by gift of the very beasts and birds. Through many hands, enriched with many different kinds of love and labour, the gift comes to me. It is the Law. The best fruits are plucked for each by some hand that is not his own.’
- p. 266, Perelandra by C. S. Lewis
We always think we must work in order to get something. Even when we are given a gift from a friend, we often feel obliged to pay her back by giving her a gift when it’s her birthday. Or we feel that we deserved to receive that gift since we had been very nice to her as a friend. So when you see somebody who received things without working for it, or you think he received it undeservedly, you feel it is unfair, or unjust even.
We are all like that. The world has taught us well. You receive what you deserve, and you are suspicious of free gifts.
So the meaning of grace escapes us. The notion of “free gift”, which is a tautology already, is alien to us. There is no free lunch, the world tells us, and we say amen to that.
But the forgiveness of sins and in fact, all the good things we enjoy in this world are gifts from God. All is gift, indeed. We have never deserved it, and will never deserve it. Who of us can claim that we toiled to make ourselves be born into this world? Who of us can claim that we earned our ways into the Kingdom of God? We are given the wonderfully bright mornings by God’s sheer grace, and we are given the seasonal rains by His grace. We are forgiven by His grace and we are accepted and taken into the relationship with Him by His grace. Was there any price involved? Any hidden costs? Cost indeed incurred. God has sent His Son into the world of sinners, and He died at the cross to pay for our sins. It cost God. But since He paid for it, we receive it freely. All is gift. It cost God to give us this gift, but for us it is free as we receive it. And what a gift it is. To know and to live with the rightful King of all ages, to love and to be loved by the Creator of the universe. There is no better gift that we could have ever imagined.