I am currently sampling an online security system that backs up all my computer information, storing it offsite so that it can be retrieved if I once again experience the ignoble "blue screen of death," or some other cyber-disaster (in case you don't know, the blue screen of death is exactly what the title implies. It's a blue screen. Of death. Computer death, that is, or at least of all stored information).
During my trial period, the company that sells the product informs me daily with a popup window that I should go ahead and purchase the service before the period ends. If I do so, they'll give me the days of the trial that I didn't use. This makes sense, except for the fact that the company doesn't know me very well. I like the notion of freely using the product, and will do so to the very end of the trial period. Of course, I strongly believe in responsibly paying for things, and will do so gladly at 11:59 p.m. of the last day of the company's offer. Nevertheless, it just feels nice to be allowed to use a product freely before making my final decision to buy.
Conversely, the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ offers no trial period. It is rather free at the beginning, and free forever thereafter.
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him" (Colossians 2:6).
From the initial reception of justification unto our final glorification, including all experience of grace in between, God's presence and working in our lives must be appropriated in the sensibility of a gift given, and a gift received. Indeed, when the Holy Spirit enables us to trust and obey our Heavenly Father, we give thanks for a gift given, and a gift received. We may expend much thought, energy and sacrifice to the act of faithfulness. We may even "give our body to be burned" for the glory of the Lord Jesus (I Corinthians 13:3). Still, we view our faithfulness not as a gift we give to God, but rather as the bestowal of grace He grants and we receive as the Spirit of Christ dwells and walks in us (II Corinthians 6:16).
A gift given. A gift received. Every moment of our relationship with God in both time and eternity will grace us with the blessedness of His generosity, and the fulfillment of our Christ-enabled capacity to freely receive His abundant provision. Faithfulness to God is the fruit of the faithfulness of God as He works in us "both to will and to do of His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). We freely exercise our hearts to receive, and will one day be affirmed for doing so (I Corinthians 4:5). We nevertheless give the Lord Jesus all glory for all things He does in us, and we do by Him. It is all a gift, every moment of both time and eternity. A gift given. A gift received.
"By the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me."
(I Corinthians 15:10)