I recently came across this gem of a quote on Facebook; beautiful in its profundity, and breathtaking in its brevity.
“Grace is the essence of theology; gratitude is the essence of ethics.” – G. C. Berkouwer
It captures the heart of what any Christian thinker has ever tried to say about the fitting human response to divine grace. The only way to respond to being given a gift is to say thank you.
My curious (and a bit obsessive) mind, always on the look-out for frameworks, pondered what the opposite might be. That earning merit (and love) is the opposite of being given Grace (and love), and is therefore the ultimate expression of bad theology. And that entitlement is the opposite of gratitude, and is therefore the ultimate expression of bad ethics.
In the back of my mind, however, was the framework of love and fear (wonderfully expressed by Michael Leunig here, scroll down and you’ll see it). It left me thinking there must be a correlation between gratitude and love, and between entitlement and fear. So I wanted to tease that out below (all the while hoping for a bit of it to drip down from my brain into my heart!)…
Love is grateful. Fear is entitled.
Love is surprised at what it has. Fear always needs more.
Love can freely give as it has received. Fear always takes.
Love can accept what it disagrees with. Fear tries to force it to change.
Love can cope without recognition. Fear clamours for attention.
Love is empathetic. Fear is narcissistic.
Love sheds tears on behalf of others. Fear only sees its own pain.
Love can fail and try again. Fear gives up.
Love is life. Fear is death.