For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Saved by Grace
In some parts of the world arranged marriages are still quite common. Often the bride and groom will have briefly met only a short time before taking their vows. Sometimes the couple will see each other for the first time only on the day of their wedding! They promise to commit the rest of their lives to a person who is no more familiar to them than a random person they pass on the street.
That may be hard for us to comprehend, because we are accustomed to showing love only to those that have somehow earned our affection first. We love our friends because they have stuck with us in hard times. We love our parents because they have generously provided and cared for us. Love in marriage grows as we come to know each other better. We find it hard to consider promising to love someone who—for all we know—may be unlovable.
This is also why grace is such a difficult concept for us at times. God promised to love us before we were even born—and he knew very well that we would not be deserving of that love! His love for us did not spring from any admiration for anything we are or have done. Much the opposite! God had every reason to be disgusted by the way we live for ourselves, the way we shamefully treat others who are different from us, the way we are ruled by petty emotions like anger, lust, greed, jealousy, and more. Even though God knew that this would happen, he loved us anyway. Not because we would somehow make up for it with good deeds or a strong faith. But purely because he is a gracious God who loves the unlovable and saves those who have no hope.
God arranged a marriage between himself and his Church—all those everywhere whom he brings to faith in him. Before we had done anything to serve him, he promised to be faithful to us and sent his Son Jesus Christ to rescue us. Christ suffered the punishment we had deserved. And he rose to life again to assure us that our sins are forgiven in him. Our Christian faith and hope of heaven is based on this grace alone.
Heavenly Father, I am altogether unworthy of the love you have shown me. Let your grace fill my heart with thanksgiving and joy that I might show others the same love you have for me. Amen.