God is the active agent in our salvation—and this does not sit well with our pride. This is why the gospel is called an offense. Nobody wants to hear that they are a charity case.
But this is the thing we must all come to grips with. And when we do, it is no longer an offense, but the most wonderful and liberating and life-giving of truths. And this is what Martin Luther was holding tightly as he went to meet his Savior. His last words, written on a piece of paper were this: “We are beggars. This is true.”
And God’s gift of grace falls into this category for us. It offends us because we can’t earn it, and it offends us because we desperately need it but don’t want to admit it.
It comes down to this: we love gifts but not charity. But what is grace if not charity? It is a gift we cannot earn or merit, and without which we are lost and damned. The problem is coming to grips with this.
The great reformer Martin Luther puts it this way: “It is certain that man must utterly despair of his own ability before he is prepared to receive the grace of Christ.”