We are trained from a young age that good behavior and hard work are rewarded. But God’s grace teaches us a different lesson: that God loves us despite what we do or don’t do. Likewise, Jesus calls us to love and serve others not for personal gain – but because we have first been loved.
I love the story of little Bradley, who came down to breakfast one morning and handed his mother a note. It read: “Mother owes Bradley .25 cents for chores, .10 cents for being good, and .15 cents for music lessons: Total, .50 cents.” His mother smiled when she read it, but didn’t saying anything. When lunchtime came, she placed the bill on Bradley’s plate with .50 cents. With the money was another bill, which read: “Bradley owes mother: 0 cents for being good to him, 0 cents for nursing him through chicken pox, and 0 cents for all his meals and his comfortable room.” Bradley got the message. He got the .50 cents, put it in his mother’s hand, and said, “Take the money back, Mama, and let me love you and do things for you, for nothing.”
That is also the call of discipleship. Go forth and love – for nothing!