Grasped by Grace
This weekend, I was thinking about how God is knowable, yet unknowable at the same time. I was thinking about how we are to display his character, yet how this character will never be truly attained here on earth. For example, we are called to display the qualities of the Spirit, namely, love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and so on. In that, we recognize we have grown in certain areas (whether in the ways we treat people, devote time to God and his word, or have found serving in the church easier than it used to be.) Sometimes, though, this concept of being unable to truly attain goodness, gentleness, and love can be frustrating, particularly when you are having a bad day- emotionally, mentally, spiritually, or physically. Then, I began to think about the concept of "grace", specifically, God's grace.
If you type in "God's grace" on Google, a whole bunch of things come up- verses, articles, questions, narrowed search titles. If you look at the definition for God's grace, you will find the concept of grace in Scripture means the idea of favor, stooping down to bestow goodness or kindness to someone. When God is giving grace, he is showing favor, goodness, kindness to us. The picture of him stooping down to give us this favor is beautifully seen in our salvation. He stooped down to bestow the favor of salvation. This concept seems simple, but looking at the actual process of granting us salvation indicates this "stooping down" is more beautiful than we initially comprehended.
In God granting us grace for salvation, there had to be a way to provide that to us. We could not attain grace by anything we could do. Grace has the idea of costing the receiver nothing, but costing the giver everything, And, that is exactly what God did for us in salvation. We could do nothing to achieve favor with God because of our sin. But, Jesus came, willingly, to earth, living to show us love, compassion, and favor- but then, he went beyond the teaching and physical healing to then die. And, not just die, but to bear in his body the sins of the world, past, present, and future. This bearing of our sins in his body caused a separation between God and Jesus: "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Jesus cried this from the cross, as his bleeding, pain-ridden, broken body bore even more as he felt the crushing weight of our sin. This death and separation cost him everything. And, in that costly giving of himself, he provided for us grace: favor, kindness, goodness from God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 is such a familiar passage, but bears much more meaning after reflecting on this idea of grace: "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." In this stooping down of God to show us favor by sending Christ to earth, as a baby, who became a man, who taught us how to live, who then died on the cross, and in that death bore our sins, who then was buried, and then rose again, ascending into heaven to then intercede before the throne for us- whew! Does this whole concept not baffle you, yet thrill you?
Grace- "God's riches at Christ's expense" is a phrase some people commonly use to describe this word, yet, the meaning is so much, much deeper and fuller. While this process cost Christ so much, think, too, of the Father. In this process of grace, he gave his only Son; he allowed his son to be ridiculed, mocked- their teachings of love and compassion to be scoffed at by people who supposedly knew God's commands. And, in this blinded state, these very religious leaders killed his son. Yet, even this death was more than what these leaders expected, for in this death, their entire religious system became riddled with upheaval. For in that cry of being forsaken by his father, Christ's giving of himself tore the temple veil in two, thereby voiding the restrictive access to God which had so long been the priest's privilege.
Here now, we understand the writer of Hebrews as he tells us of the access we now have to come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). This stooping down not only provided for us salvation, but provided for us access to the very throne of God. Are you comprehending this idea of grace? God has shown you favor by allowing you to become his child (if indeed you have come to him in faith), yet he doesn't stop there. He continues to provide you grace by allowing his throne to be at your access- whenever, wherever, whoever.
So how does this apply to you today, this week, this month. Here's where I want to make this concept expand for you. I have been saved by grace through faith in Christ. Yet, I stopped tasting of God's grace at salvation. Let me explain: I lived so long, doing the Christian things, reading my Bible, saying the verses, doing what I thought was right, and good, and acceptable in my finite understanding of the Christian life. But, something was missing. Why was I not experiencing a greater understanding of God's character in my life? Why was God seemingly unknowable; his character unattainable? Why was I constantly frustrated with my efforts as a Christian?
I had a wrong view of grace. I had accepted grace in salvation, but, I failed to understand this grace was mine for each day. This grace is mine to claim in every moment. This grace is inexhaustible. This grace encompasses more than salvation. This grace is my very cry of existence. For without his grace, I cannot come boldly to his throne. Without his grace, I cannot become like him. Without his grace, I will continue to wallow in my sinful struggles.
Are you claiming God's grace? Are you claiming it in the everyday grind? We will continue to sin, dear ones. Every single day. Every day, we find ourselves moody, temperamental, angry, bitter, giving in to that addiction that plagues us, arguing with our husband, impatient with the kids, gossiping about so-and-so- this list could go on and on. We wonder why we are living this frustrating cycle of good days and bad days. We find ourselves grasping at bits of God instead of claiming his fullness. God's grace is not just for salvation. God's grace is for every day. And, we claim that grace when we humbly admit we can do nothing, become nothing, say nothing that remotely reflects his character without that gift of grace.
Are you regularly admitting your need for grace? Are you claiming his grace in the moments of weakness? Are you praising him for his grace in the moments of triumph?
Ask God to enlarge your view of his grace today. Thank him for his grace in your salvation. Praise him for his grace in your every day moments. And, in the struggles of sin and the pressures from the world and the devil, claim his grace. He has stooped down to provide you his loving favor. Come boldly to him, yet humbly come, knowing that while his grace can never be fully understood, it is his grace which will carry you each day. It is his grace which compels you to serve him. It is his grace which provides you with the ability to know him. It is his grace which will help you overcome the sin which easily besets you.
"How vast his grace! How great his faithfulness!" And, all these things are available to you and me. Live today humbled by grace. May this change the way you live- not for anything you can do for God but only by what he has stooped so low to do for you!
Additional Songs for Meditation: