Grace…what comes to mind when you hear that word?
Forgiveness? A pardon? An excuse? Favor? The name of our church?
Beneath the Surface
It seems to me, that as believers, we are quick to receive grace, but slow to give it. And that makes me wonder if we are truly receiving it in the first place. Do we fully realize our dependence on God’s grace, and the impact that this should make in our lives everyday?
What the Bible says about Grace
Paul dives into this concept of grace in Ephesians 2. For the first three verses, he describes how we were all dead in our sin, enslaved to our passions and fleshly desires. And then verses four through ten come…and hope explodes,
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I hope you read that slowly and let it sink in. Sometimes when we read something we’ve heard before, we go on autopilot, but my prayer is that these words, written by Paul, but inspired the Holy Spirit, pierce right through your heart today.
We deserved punishment because of our sins, but God’s mercy and love rescued us when we were still “dead in our trespasses.” We did nothing to deserve His forgiveness, but His grace has saved us. A gift He freely gives so that “he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (v.7).
We did nothing to deserve being saved. Did you catch that? Nothing. And that was God’s plan all along. He rescued us so that He will get all the glory (if you weren’t at church two Sundays ago, Pastor Aaron’s sermon on why God deserves to be glorified was really challenging – watch the sermon here! )
Psalm 40:2 puts it this way,
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.”
He did it. His love for us is unfathomable, and His grace rescued us when we didn’t deserve it.
I love how Paul calls us God’s workmanship in Eph. 2:10. Our Creator made us, formed us, and continues to chisel away at us for good works; works that He has already prepared for us! This process isn’t usually comfortable, but it’s the most loving thing He can do. So now back to my initial thought and question; as believers, we are quick to receive grace, but slow to give it. And that makes me wonder if we are truly receiving it in the first place. Do we fully realize our dependence on God’s grace, and the impact that should make in our lives everyday?
Application and a Confession
If we are, in fact, living in light of the truth that we are saved by God’s amazing grace through faith in His Son’s death (the death we deserved because of our sins) and resurrection, why are we so quick to not extend that grace to others or ourselves? Why do I struggle so much when others disappoint me or misinterpret something I said or did? Why do I say I’m grateful for God’s grace and then pick and choose who deserves to receive my grace?
The majority of blogs that I have the privilege of writing are snapshots into what the Lord is currently teaching me. So I will be transparent with you all and share that I have a long standing battle with pride, and thus, struggle to extend grace to myself and others. But the Holy Spirit is chipping away at me. He’s reminding me of the state I was in when God’s grace covered me. He is reminding me every day of the grace He shows me when I stumble and fall. He is reminding me of His immense love for ALL of His creation, and the opportunity I have as His child to extend that same grace to others.
So what does that look like? What can we do right now when we turn off our phone, computer or tablet, and look again at the world around us?
-First, we can fall to our knees and praise our Lord and Savior for showing us grace.
-We can recall the grace He shows us daily, moment by moment, as we strive to become more like Him.
-And then…then we can ask Him to help us see His creation, His beloved children, through His eyes.
-We can ask to be reminded that HE ALONE is perfect.
-And finally, we can extend this grace to ourselves and to each other. We can remember how Paul closed that passage in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” As believers, we are all on this journey together. My prayer is that we remember that we are God’s workmanship, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are all striving to become more and more like Jesus, and thus all needing encouragement and grace along the way.
So let’s journey on, not forgetting where we’ve been, but ever looking to where we are going. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him and strive to be more like Him every day in our thoughts, words, and actions.
Grace…receive it and extend it.