“Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” (ESV)
Have you ever met someone who acted as if they were "God's gift to the world."? This expression is used of those who seem to be full of themselves. I think that there are some who teach a theology that we are so wonderful that God just could not live without us. It is as if we are a gift that God had to pay for because we are so great.
In this verse Paul is speaking of God himself. Who has given God a gift that somehow would obligate him to pay them back? Consider for a moment that we are full of sin; we are rebels to God's perfect standard of holiness; we are objects of God's wrath. If we truly understand how unholy we are we will never think that we are some kind of wonderful gift.
In this verse Paul is alluding to a passage in the book of Job. In Job 41:11 it says, "Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine." I think that what is said in Job is even more clear. In Job we read, "Who has FIRST given to me?" In other words, in our sinful condition, what could we possibly offer?
The fact is simple. Without God intervening in our life and making us a new creation (1 Corinthians 5:17) we have nothing to give to God. The thing that makes God's grace so amazing is that he looks at our sinful, rebellious, worthless lives and chooses to love us in spite of ourselves. It is all about him and never about us.
We have nothing to offer God but our worthless selves. He does not owe us anything, but he has richly given to us his amazing love. What a truly wonderful Savior we have.