Read Deuteronomy 7:7-8
7 “The Lord did not set his heart on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! 8 Rather, it was simply that the Lord loves you, and he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such a strong hand from your slavery and from the oppressive hand of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. (NLT)
Some people are not very good at accepting compliments. They may blushingly change the subject, or give the credit to someone else. Some even refuse point-blank to accept a compliment. It may look like humility, but it is more often an incapacity to receive grace.
When it comes to the usual gift giving and receiving, this may not have too much impact. But when it comes to God’s offer of grace it gets more serious. If we figure that we can’t accept his gracious offer of pardon and friendship, we are in trouble. To tell him we don’t deserve it is to state the obvious. Grace is what it is because we don’t deserve it.
Our passage reminds us that God chose the people of Israel not because they were particularly meritorious or powerful: they were neither. He chose them out of sheer love. Jesus came to earth to offer forgiveness and friendship with God not because of our goodness but out of his own goodness.
The whole point of grace is that it is offered to those who have no claim on God’s favour. To try to be worthy of it is to miss the point and to miss grace itself. After all, if someone we love gives us a gift, we don’t usually reject it because we are unworthy of it. We see it for what it really is: a gift, offered in love and hopefully received in love.