Blessings I Didn’t Earn
How many times have I heard the word “grace” in church, on the radio, or from a friend, but still not understood its meaning? According to the biblical definition, grace is unmerited favor, getting something good that you didn’t deserve. It’s the lovingkindness of God.
A couple years ago, after I read this definition I thought about three faces of grace:
The first is the grace face of salvation. According to the Bible, we are saved by grace. We didn’t earn it; we can’t do anything to get it. We have received it because of God’s lovingkindness, His unmerited favor.
The second grace face is the face of ability. In 2 Cor. 12, Paul describes a “thorn in the flesh” that he received. There are various ideas about what this might have been, but whatever it was, Paul asked God to remove it. God said no. Instead He said, “My grace [my lovingkindness, my unmerited favor] is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God’s grace, His favor, freely given, was enough to help Paul endure. This grace face gives us the ability to do stuff: to raise children, to endure something difficult—and to live life on planet earth.
The last grace face is the grace face of blessings. This one hit me hard as I thought about the definition of grace, that it’s His unearned favor. In an effort to understand grace better, I prayed, “Lord, show me your grace.” I expected Him to show me His favor in the days to come or bring my attention to something in the present. Instead, memories of the past came flooding in carrying with them the blessings that I had received and times of unmerited favor.
Shana, do you remember the job you were unqualified for that I gave you?
“Ah, yes Lord. That was your grace.”
How about when I provided for you financially in narrow places?
“Yes, grace too.”
I spared you from illness.
“Grace indeed, Lord.”
I was beginning to see a pattern.
Then a flurry of other times when God had given me unearned favor flooded my mind. . .
A new bicycle as a gift after my old one was stolen.
Repairs on my car that I couldn’t fix.
New friends that I didn’t find.
Safety while traveling that I didn’t grant myself.
Love from family and friends I didn’t earn.
Tender compassion from a friend I didn’t deserve.
Safe places to lay my head for the last year that I could not have arranged.
All of these things and more—blessings I didn’t earn and I didn’t deserve.
After I traveled down memory lane, I was overwhelmed with how much grace, how much unearned favor God has lavished on me in love and I became aware of my ingratitude toward Him. I had often thrown a tantrum because I wanted more and thought I got less. It was as if the Lord was saying, See how much I have given you that you didn’t deserve, didn’t earn, and almost always didn’t ask for? See My grace? See how much I love you?
I encourage you to stop today and thank God for His grace in your life for salvation, to help you do what you couldn’t do without His help, and for all the blessings that you didn’t earn.
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