How to Live In God's Grace
“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace." John 1:16 ESV
What is Grace?
Grace means "God's unmerited favor bestowed upon us."
This morning I thought about grace and how easily we can forget that every day is new and full of God's goodness towards us. We did nothing to earn grace. It is a free gift, but it is a gift that has to be received if we are to benefit from it.
I often take the Lord's grace towards me for granted. I forget the sacrifice he made to give me eternal life. He shows me grace every day when my frail humanity and weaknesses expose themselves in a negative attitude or careless words spoken in the heat of the moment.
Jesus gave us the free gift of salvation because of his grace, not because of our works or accomplishments. He daily wraps his grace up in unexpected packages like hidden treasures just waiting to be found.
"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 work, so that no one my boast." Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV
Do you hear the birds chirping? That's grace. The sound of music in your ears? Grandbabies little feet running across the tile floor? Grace again. Or, for many of us, strength for another day living with the stress and worry of an adult child struggling with addiction or other life-destructive behaviors. Perhaps for some it’s the burden of choices others are making that affect you, and you just need God's grace to keep going. Maybe you are struggling within your own body. You may be weak or sick, hurting because of depression or grief. Perhaps your heart has been broken by another. Without grace, you would lose all hope.
Grace is God giving us so much more than we could ask or imagine. When we think we can't "do this" one more day, there's grace carrying us through. When we cry, "This is too much! Has God forgotten me?" grace speaks to our hearts and reminds us we are not alone.
While we long for the tangible assurance that God is in this with us, it is often the intangible that speaks to our hearts softly and quietly. "You are loved. You are chosen. I am with you. You are more than able". His Spirit speaks to us His promises as we nestle into that place of grace. And grace follows grace. One beautiful grace moment rolling into another as we catch glimpses of God's love for us throughout the day.
"Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Hebrews 4:16 ESV
How to Receive Grace
In the Bible, the word grace appears 131 in the English Standard Version. Two-thirds of which were spoken by the Apostle Paul, who is known as the "apostle of grace." Paul embraced grace because he considered himself to be "the worst of sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15). He understood he had a debt he could never repay. He knew the man he was before Christ redeemed him. Any changes for the better in his life he credited to Jesus alone.
Grace not only saves us, it sanctifies us. As humans, we are sinful, broken, and suffering. That's why Jesus came to die for us-because he knew we needed grace not judgment. We are always striving to do better and be better, to earn the favor and approval of others. Instead, in his mercy, the Lord pours out his grace into our lives. Grace is based on God's mercy, not our merit. Without grace, we could never live our lives in a manner pleasing to our Lord.
So, how do we learn to live in the grace of God? First, we need to remember that grace is not about us. It is about God and his character. In the book of Exodus 34, God is described as "slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, and forgiving of wickedness, rebellion and sin." He not only generously gives us the gift of salvation, He sanctifies and transform us from the inside out. To receive his grace, we can ask him to do the work in us instead of us striving to do it on our own. How grateful I am for his patience with me in the process! I know left to my own demise, I would be controlled by my flesh and its desires.
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age," Titus 2:11-12 ESV
To apply God's grace to our lives, we begin from a place of gratitude. When we are thankful for all Christ has done for us, we become more aware of how it is transforming us. We are thankful for our salvation, the forgiveness of our sins, and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to sanctify us and help us say "no" to sin. Above all else, the love of God demonstrated through his mercy and compassion towards us is a gift of grace that we can also extend towards others. The gratitude we feel in our hearts towards God is poured out in our lives and reflected in our attitude and how we treat other people.
What a generous gift grace is to us! How can we keep it to ourselves? When we consider the grace of God in our lives, we can't help but be willing to share it with the people we encounter throughout our day. For that person who has hurt you, you can grant them grace demonstrated in love and forgiveness, just as Christ has done for you. For the co-worker who is rude to you, you can be a vessel used to show God's patience and kindness towards them. For that loved one who seems as though they will never change, who gets on your last nerve, the Lord's grace will sustain you as you seek to be a light in their lives.
"Grace is God's best idea. His decision to ravage a people by love, to rescue passionately, and to restore justly - what rivals it? Of all his wondrous works, grace, in my estimation, is the magnum opus." ~Max Lucado
Finally, as believers, we are called to obey the Lord. Grace does not give us a license to sin and say we are sorry later. We cannot take the precious gift of grace for granted. Obedience to the Lord's commands is expected of us as his children. Again, this is not done in our own strength, but by the power of Christ living in us. What is the Lord calling you to do today? Is it to forgive someone who has repeatedly caused you pain? Is it to pray for those who slander and say evil things against you? Is it to make personal sacrifices to help someone else who is suffering, even if that someone is ungrateful and unappreciative? Whatever it is, he is gifting you with the grace you need to be obedient.
"For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. What then, Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!" Romans 6:14-15 ESV
What a wonderful gift the grace of God is to each of us. When we reflect on his generous kindness towards us, living in it and sharing it with others isn't as hard as you might think. I encourage you to read this daily affirmation below on a regular basis. As we move into this season of Thanksgiving, may it be a reminder to you of God's grace in your life as you share his grace with others.
Daily Grace Affirmation
When I feel guilty, I will receive grace.
When I have earned condemnation, I will accept grace.
When I am ashamed, I will cling to grace.
When loved ones hurt me, I will offer grace instead of retaliation.
When friends judge me, I will extend grace in the form of forgiveness.
When people reject me, I will remember that Christ was rejected for me and receive his grace to cover my pain.
I will accept God’s grace in my weakness rather than relying on my own strength.
I will plant seeds of grace in the lives of those I meet because I want grace to bring a bountiful harvest in mine.
May you receive God's unmerited favor today and always.