Grace Leads to a Healthy Life
Health is something each of us desires... in life, in love, in work. I want to help teach each of us the five necessary ingredients to spiritual health: learn how to think about, how to behave, and how to be in relationships that will bring health to your personal, family, and financial life.
Everything about the American way of life teaches you get what you earn in life. You get what you pay for. We value work, sweat, effort, performance. It is called the American Work Ethic. And it’s good. The only problem is it causes a difficulty in us relating to God because God does not relate to us on performance. The Bible says that God relates to us and everything God does in our lives, every blessing we have in our lives, comes by grace as a free gift. You don’t earn it, you don’t deserve it, you don’t work for it. It’s just a free gift of God. And the Bible says that everything in your life is a gift of grace.
Everything in my life that’s good is a gift from God. Even the Apostle Paul, a Christian “superhero” of the first century, said it this way,
"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me" (1 Corinthians 15:10).
Today, there are two dimensions to grace that I want us to look at. There is the grace of God which comes to you which you don't deserve and cannot earn. And then there is the grace of God which comes through you that you give to other. In fact, let me give you a definition
A healthy life receives God's grace and become a channel of it for others
Grace. I'm sure many of you think you know what it is. You may have head knowledge–“It’s God’s gift to me. I know I don’t work my way to heaven. It’s just a gift.” You may have a head knowledge of God’s grace in your life but most of you really don’t act like it. You don’t live it. In fact, you continually think that God disapproves of you. You get up thinking, “God is mad at me today. Or God’s ticked off at me because of what I did yesterday.” Some of you think God is like a parent who can't be pleased. You don't understand grace. Or, if you understand that God does not love you on the basis of your performance, you have been unable to extend that grace to others.
Many people confuse grace with mercy and they’re two different things. Mercy is when God doesn’t give you what you deserve. That’s mercy! Have you ever done anything wrong and gotten away with it? Yes. You’ve gotten off scott-free on a lot of things that you deserve justice for, that you deserve punishment for. When God doesn’t give you what you deserve that’s called mercy. On the other hand when God gives what you don’t deserve that’s grace. All the good things in your life you didn’t earn, you didn’t work for, you weren’t given. They were just gifts of God’s grace to you. We’ve identified five dimensions of spiritual health. The first one is grace. Here is what we have said about it.
Grace-We believe that everyone is lost and separated from God. Only by God’s wonderful and grace-filled gift of Jesus Christ are we able to be in right relationship to Him. Only by His continuous gifts of grace are we able to be forgiven and to live in grace filled relationships with other people. Let’s unpack some of the important things to understand about grace:
Grace is free from God!
It is a total gift of God. If you were to go out and ask 10 people, “How do you get to heaven?”, you’d get the same answers most of the time. “Just work real hard and try to do your best... Be sincere and be nice to people... just try to do good and make sure that you do more good in your life than you do bad because maybe God grades on a curve and if your good works are better than your bad works maybe He’ll go, ‘You’re a good guy, sincere. Just come on in.’” That’s the way most of the world thinks. Most of the world thinks they’re going to get into heaven by being a pretty good person. Most of us think we’re pretty good or good enough to get into heaven but bad enough to be fun. We want to carry those balances.
Romans 3:24 “All of us need to be made right with God. How? By His grace (circle “by His grace”) which is a free gift through Jesus Christ.” Circle the phrase “free gift”. That is the best gift you’re ever going to be offered. There is no better gift than that. You may get a Rolls Royce and win a lottery but this free gift goes on for eternity and it is through Jesus Christ. It is a priceless gift and you will never be offered a better deal than that.
Grace is received by faith!
You don’t earn it, you don’t work for it, you don’t deserve it, you don’t do a bunch of things to get God’s grace like “If I take communion I get God’s grace... If I'm baptized I get God’s grace... ” No, no. Grace is received by faith.
"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Whoever means whoever! Just those who are good looking and calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, right? Or, just everyone who shops at Nordstrom’s. No, it doesn’t say that. It says “Whoever” Does that mean ugly people? Yes. Does it mean fat people and skinny people? Yes. Does that include tall and short? Yes. Does that include dumb people as well as smart people? Yes. Does that include rich and poor? Yes. Every ethnic background? Yes. Laker fans? Yes. Spurs fans? Maybe... yes!
It means everybody. Everybody. Grace is available to you.