The Grace of God
Grace is a provision for men who are so fallen that they cannot lift the axe of justice, so corrupt that they cannot change their own natures, so averse to God that they cannot turn to Him, so blind that they cannot see Him, so deaf that they cannot hear Him, and so dead that He Himself must open their graves and lift them into resurrection. (G. S. Bishop)
Grace is a gift. Grace is forgiveness of an action for no other reason than to heal the relationship with the one who did the offending by the one who was offended. Grace cannot be compensated for, otherwise it would not be a gift, it would not be grace.
“And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” (Romans 11:5). Here’s the thing, if we can do something, anything really, to earn grace it’s not grace. If we can work to achieve forgiveness it’s not forgiveness in God’s eyes. For us as people we sometimes make other people get better or earn our trust and forgiveness. God doesn’t have to trust us with His heart because He knows our hearts. In God’s love He doesn’t wait, He loves us so much that He wants to leap to grace. “Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:7-8).
Jesus told this story to represent God’s grace, "For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire men to work in his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius for the day and sent them into his vineyard." About the third hour he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.' So they went. "He went out again about the sixth hour and the ninth hour and did the same thing. About the eleventh hour he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, 'Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?' " 'Because no one has hired us,' they answered."He said to them, 'You also go and work in my vineyard.' "When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, 'Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.' "The workers who were hired about the eleventh hour came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 'These men who were hired last worked only one hour,' they said, 'and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.' "But he answered one of them, 'Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn't you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'” (Matthew 20:1-15).
This is a great example of God’s grace and it gets to the very problem that we as people have with it; it’s not fair. We raise our hands and our voices in complaints to someone getting the same treatment as us when they haven’t worked as hard or as long. We whine and moan when we see someone we don’t like get the same treatment as us. We can’t believe it when someone who deserves to be punished receives grace; unless it’s us who receives the grace.
Grace is an attribute of God that is demonstrated best by the life of His Son, “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.” (John 1:16-18).
As we have talked before, God uses people for different purposes. He used Moses to share His law with the Israelites; He used His Son to share grace and truth. I tend to think of Jesus’ great act of grace was His willingness to die for us, and I think that is true. But, I also think there’s another huge component of His gift to us; His willingness to live for us. What I mean is that before He could be nailed on the cross He had to come down from heaven, be born of a woman, and live 30 years in a place that wasn’t very nice compared to where He came from. He was like the first missionary.
As our state’s physical location is near Mexico, there are often times church groups going south to help out our poorer brothers and sisters in Mexico in one way or another. Each time they return there seems to be a lot of discussion about the difficult living conditions that were encountered. Think about what Jesus thought. “Ok, I come from a place that has golden streets for pete’s sake, the streets here are dirty and dusty with the occasional sampling of donkey poop.”
Besides the physical conditions Jesus lived with was the people condition. Everywhere He looked there were broken, hurting, dying people. Think of the drain this must have had on His heart. Think of the Creator seeing His creation in pain every single day. Think of what He lived through in order to die for us.
What a God. What a gift.
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