I have a new word that I’m clinging to these days — GRACE. As a follower of Christ, I know the definition from the use of the acrostic:
That may sound good or make sense to a person who’s grown up in church, but what does it really mean to the ordinary person?
Getting something amazing that we could not earn or deserve.
The gift of salvation and forgiveness of sins came at a cost. Christ did on the cross what we could never have done ourselves, and all God requires is for us to accept it by faith. We have the riches of God — peace on earth and eternity in heaven, all because he loved us enough to send his only Son to die on our behalf. That’s the glory of the gospel.
The question for this day is: Am I living the grace-filled life?
Jesus gave us the best illustration of what it is not. A man owed his master a great debt, and when asked to pay up, he pled for leniency and time to repay. Instead of simply giving him time, the man was stunned when his master completely forgave the debt. Wow, what generosity, mercy — grace.
He definitely didn’t deserve for that debt to be wiped out; he didn’t do anything to pay it. The master gave him something of great value without him doing anything.
You would think the man, if he lived in our day, would have “paid it forward,” right? Hardly, he left his master, debt free, but upon seeing a fellow servant who owed him a bit of money, grabbed him and had him thrown into prison because he couldn’t immediately pay the amount back.
The receipt of grace does not guarantee a life of grace.
This is the scourge of our time. We will be judged by God, as Christ followers, for our lack of grace-filled living.
The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic has just exacerbated this problem in the Body:
- We see it in accusations toward pastors and ministry leaders of wrong actions related to closing or opening churches.
- We see it in ungracious posts on social media about others.
- We see it in the lack of grace and margin given in family relationships, as we live in quarantine.
- We see it in denouncing fellow believers on opposite side of political or ideological divides.
- We see it in the tendency to speak-first, without thinking or consulting the Holy Spirit for self-control and guidance.
How quickly we forget just how much we’ve been forgiven; how far God’s thrown our sins from us. How quickly we forget the price of the grace we take for granted and stamp it under foot through our words and deeds.
Julia Johnson understood that grace, when she wrote these words:
Marvelous grace of our loving Lord, Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt, Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured, There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.*
I’m so grateful that God’s grace exceeds my sin and guilt. Can I not show some of that same grace toward others?
By His grace, I can. Will you?
Marvelous, infinite, matchless Grace and Peace
*Grace Greater than our Sin by Julia H. Johnston, 1849-1919.