What is Grace? pt.3

(This blog will be offline for a couple of weeks while I travel.  Please enjoy these posts from the archives.  Feel free to comment or ask questions.  I will be able to respond when I return.)

 

There are so many definitions of grace out there today… and some of them don’t look like grace at all to me.  When I say grace, I mean the sufficiency of Jesus Christ in all aspects of the Christian life.  John Newton wrote that “’tis grace that brought me safe thus far and grace will bring me home.”  This is more than saving grace.  It is grace that called out to me when I was in sin.  It is grace that justifies me in the sight of the Almighty God.  It is grace that works sanctification in me.  It will be grace that glorifies me in that wonderful day.  And the whole thing is the work of Jesus!  Grace is God’s activity in us, for us, and through us

So, I believe that there is no life in me but the life of Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20).  I was lost – unwilling and unable to live spiritually – and He gave His life for me.  My life, in a sense, was exchanged for His. 

That has serious meaning.  It means that I can do nothing on my own, as Jesus said.  It means that I depend on Him alone for strength, righteousness, wisdom, love and everything else.  If these things are seen in me it is because of the life and activity of Jesus within me.  And that is grace.

So there is saving grace, grace that reaches into my life and saves me from my sinful state, but there is calling grace, sanctifying grace, relationship grace, grace for daily living, and so much more.  I depend on the activity of God’s love for every part of my life – in fact, the ultimate activity of God’s love (Jesus) is my life.

I am beginning to think that grace is something experienced a little differently by each of us.  That would make some sense, because God is a real Person and does relate to us individually.  The activity of His love will be seen in different ways in each of our lives and some will find it easier or even wiser to focus on particular aspects of His grace for their own hearts.  That just makes it even more wonderful!

No wonder they call grace “amazing”!

3 Comments

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3 responses to “What is Grace? pt.3

  1. Hi Dave,

    I’ve been reading your posts about grace and have a question. God’s grace in my life has been extraordinary, I am humbled by it and rely on it to carry me through all of the good and bad.

    But it seems that when it comes to extending grace to others I, and many other Christians fail. For instance, I was reading another blog where the author decided that it was unfair of him to judge the convicted sex offender who lived in his condo because he didn’t really know the details. That sounds nice in theory but how do we really live that? Obviously he should not allow his 3-year-old to be around the man unsupervised. Does extending grace mean that we ignore evil? Don’t report crimes?

    Just wondering, it’s something that is bugging me. I understand that all of us are equally guilty before God, all of us require his sacrifice and grace. I just don’t always know how to extend it to others.

    • Hi Robin

      I could be wrong in this and please feel free to show me, but I don’t see any command to extend grace to others. What I see is that we should love them. Now, I realize that, when many people teach about grace, they focus on forgiveness, kindness, acceptance, etc. But grace encompasses all we need. It is grace that taught my heart to fear and grace that relieved my fear, as the old hymnist wrote.

      So, if Jesus wants me to love others, even those who have done gross evil, then He will have to give me that love to share with them. There is little or nothing in me that can do it. He will give that love by His grace.

      Your question is big. It is not my job to forgive, so I don’t have to worry about forgiving. It is not my job to judge (in most circumstances) so I don’t have to worry about judging. If my neighbor is a sex offender, I have no place judging him or deciding whether he is guilty in any way. Instead, I should treat him as I would any other, with kindness and love. I am not asked to accept him in any way other than what he is. If he is a believer, I accept him as a believer. If he is not, I accept him as an unbeliever.

      Love requires me to look at the other person and actually see him. In other words, I might have to think about the sex offender when I bring a three-year old with me. Is it loving to bring temptation or struggle to him? If I don’t know the answer, I may have to ask Jesus and listen.

      Maybe that’s the key. I believe that Jesus is alive and well and active among His people. If we want to know something we should ask. If we don’t know how to do something or can’t find what we need already within us, then we have to ask Him. He loves me and He loves the sex offender and He will lead me in the right way.

      A good deal of the struggle in Christian ethics comes from our feelings of responsibility for things that aren’t ours. It is not difficult for me to be kind or patient, not when I stop to think about others. And, really that’s all the Lord asks of me. I have been forgiven and I am accepted. Now I have to remember that He can do the same with anyone else.

      Big question, long answer! Sorry. I feel that this is not adequate, but it may prompt other questions.

      Dave

      • Kelly

        Dave I like your answer to Robin. I know in my own life that loving others is the key. I get in trouble myself, when I start to pre-think how to handle something that maybe doesn’t fit my frame of reference. When I love, by the grace of Jesus, things really do fall into place and it’s quite amazing. I also an a firm believer in moment by moment guidance of the Holy Spirit and I ask Him all the time what to do about any situation I am facing and He always guides me. Praise God for the resident counselor in the life of the believer.

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