So after a long hiatus from it, we went to that fourth restaurant one morning, fresh from the lab. Our waitress was young and pretty and friendly beyond "greet the customers with a smile" friendly. When she brought a refill on the coffee almost impossibly soon (yet we were ready for it) I said something on the order of, "Your parents must like coffee like we do."
"Not so much," she said. "I'm a single mom, putting myself through school. I am the one who drinks so much coffee. I need it!" She said all this with a big friendly smile, poured our second cup and was on her way to her next table.
It impressed Keith that she was not bemoaning her state, or griping about it. It simply was her life and she did not let it ruin her day or affect her customers at all. She maintained a good mood despite what must have been a weary mind and body. So near the end of our meal, after she had filled us up at least five times, he handed her a $20 bill wrapped around one of my blog cards. "I am going to put a tip on the bill like I always do, but this is for a single mom who is doing her best for her family."
She was stunned. "But you don't have to do that," she managed to stammer.
"I know," he said. "But you aren't complaining or griping about things, just accepting life with a good attitude, and it made me want to help." Her eyes filled, but she managed to say, "Thank you so much," before she left. When we finally finished our meal, with her tip written in on the credit card slip, we left and she gave us a wave as she was waiting on another table, mouthing, "Thank you again."
That, my dear readers, is grace. Though she did an excellent job for us, but she did not earn a 100% tip, which is just about what that twenty and her regular tip added up to.
God gives us grace, too—not because we earn it. That undoes the very meaning of the word. We did not deserve it. We were not perfect. For by grace have you been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory (Eph 2:8-9). None of our righteous deeds mean that God now owes us. For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom 3:23-24).
Sometimes I hear people who are facing a trial say things like, "How can God let this happen after all I've done?" That person has not yet learned the lesson of grace. While it is true that the one who has been saved will show his gratitude by doing everything within his power to obey and serve God, he still has not, and never will, earn his salvation. None of us will. God owes us nothing. Anything good in your life is His grace. Maybe this little waitress will help teach us what that means.
But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).