Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NRSV)
Some of us are better at giving a gift than receiving it. When a gift is offered, we mutter things about how they shouldn’t have bothered, or we don’t deserve it, or it cost too much money or trouble. Similarly when two people go back and forth about who is going to pay for a meal together. One insists and the other insists. No-one, it seems, wants to receive a gift.
All that might mean some social awkwardness, but when it comes to receiving from God it gets more serious. Our text and many others like it urge us to embrace the gift being offered. No need for hesitation or awkwardness. We need mercy, we need forgiveness, we need help. And all that is on offer. To knock it back has eternal consequences.
To say we don’t need grace is to deceive ourselves. Our relative goodness is not good enough for the perfect goodness of God. To say we don’t deserve it misses the point altogether. By definition we don’t deserve grace, which is basically divine kindness extended to undeserving humans.
If we firmly close our hands or defiantly clench our fists, we can never receive what is offered to us. We need open hands and open hearts. We need to realise that when it comes to grace, it is better to receive than to give.