Grace vs. Grades

Grace vs. Grades

Dr. Jim Denison

Matthew 20:1-16

Thesis: Life’s motivation should be gratitude for grace, not performance to earn it

John Claypool has long been one of my favorite preachers. In his now-classic treatise, The Preaching Event, he describes the preacher as a “gift-giver,” one who gives to others the gifts he has received from God. The gift we have received is grace. The gift we are to give is grace.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t open the package. Claypool describes himself during his school years as “a nobody who had to compete and out-achieve all others in order to become a somebody.” Even in seminary his problems with self esteem persisted, and were made worse by the institution he attended. Perceptively, he calls his theological alma mater “a community of grades rather than a community of grace.” Claypool has been reading my mail. And yours.

Surveys indicate that the vast majority of Americans are like John Claypool. We live with perpetual self doubt and self esteem problems. Most of us feel deeply inadequate. We don’t want you to know who we really are, because we’re afraid if you do, you won’t like us very much. So we create what psychologists call an “idealized self,” the person we wish you to see. It’s a mask we wear. And we’re never without it.