I had a wonderful golf outing with my dad this weekend in Kansas City. In fact, one of my dad's friends in the group was a 79 year-old doctor who delivered me when I was born! Here's a picture of him teeing off (my dad is in the foreground).
As you might imagine, once on the putting green we conceded several "gimme" putts to our elder friend. For those of you who don't play golf, a gimme is when someone grants you a putt that is considered "close enough" and makable, usually within 2-3 feet of the hole. It's a respectable gesture to another golfer. While my dad and I were willing to offer gimme putts to the Doc, we were a little less willing to offer them to each other. Call it friendly competition or just plain fun - as he likes to make me sweat it out :)
So you can imagine my exuberant reaction when my dad offered up a rare gimme as I lined up my putt. "Huh?!" I questioned. "That's a gimme," he replied. "Sweet," I thought. "I'm picking this ball up before he changes his mind!"
A gimme is the epitome of grace on the golf course. Interestingly, I used to refuse them when they were offered to me. For some reason I felt I needed to putt the ball and prove I could make it. Sometimes I would make it, but most times I would miss. Regardless, the bigger issue is that I felt I needed to prove something. I refused this gift of grace to prove I could do it. Sound familiar?
By definition, grace is unmerited favor. We don't deserve it and we know we don't deserve it. Therefore, we want to prove to ourselves or someone else (usually God) that we do deserve it. (That, my friends, is pride). After all, what can we ever prove to God? He is omniscient (all-knowing) about every facet of our lives. He gives us the gift of grace through His son, Jesus Christ, even though we don't deserve it. Just like the way I used to play golf, we can choose to refuse this gift in an effort to prove something to Him. -What a shame. Rejecting someone's grace on the golf course is one thing. Rejecting grace from the God of the universe is something else. Can you imagine?
Yes, in case you're wondering I gave my dad a gimme or two on Saturday. :)