Grace is an interesting word. It’s thrown around a lot, especially in the Church and has a few different meanings. You might hear someone call a judge or a king “Your grace.” A parent might say they are giving their child grace by allowing them to do something they haven’t earned. You might say someone has grace because they are a great dancer. There is even a weird instance where we use grace by saying that someone’s “saving grace” is their humor, wit, or whatever. As an example of a redeeming quality they might have.
There are so many different ways to describe the word that it seems like we have lost what it means to be gracious. God has been faithful to show grace throughout the history of man-kind. Over and over again. In fact, one of the reasons the prophet Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh was because he knew that if the people there repented that God would be gracious to them. (Jonah 4:2) Jonah was seriously complaining that God was too gracious and merciful!
The part that gets me is that even though we can easily see that Jonah is being dramatic, we as Christians fall into the same mentality so often. Unbelievers and even other Christians are so often subject to our judgement. They support this or they have done that and through our actions we make sure they are aware that they are outside of God’s grace. Or maybe we even sit outside their circle waiting for God’s judgement to fall on them.
The crazy thing is that this is exactly what grace is for! Grace is unmerited favor on God’s account.
Meaning we didn’t earn the grace that is given to us anyway! Time and time again God reminds us that our best is really not that great. We would do well to remember that because it makes God’s grace all the greater! If we, or they (whoever ‘they’ is for you) deserved the grace given to them, it wouldn’t be that great of a thing. It’s only when we recognize that our best, our thoughts, our anger, our righteousness is not worth anything that we are free to see God’s grace as everything!
So today, I want us to do a little exercise. Take a break from all the social media, the calls, and the emails and just remember. Remember how you have been shown unmerited favor. Remember how you have done nothing to be called righteous and it has always been God.
John Bradford, a sixteenth century reformer was once watching a group of prisoners being led away for execution when he said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I.” John Bradford recognized that without the unmerited favor of God he is exactly the same as the worst humans. That his best isn’t enough to make him higher than anyone. The humility it takes to recognize that is something that I pray all of us will one day have.