What is “grace”? Grace is defined by Merriam-Webster as “unmerited divine assistance given to humans, and a virtue coming from God”. Note the word “unmerited”, which means we do not deserve it nor worked hard for it, yet, the Lord gives it to us. In plain terms, grace is receiving something good for us that we don’t deserve, which we got out of God’s love and mercy for us.
Many people have the wrong perception of grace, and the word is misused in legalistic, and licentious ways for selfish reasons. It is often wrapped in spiritual pride, self-righteousness, and being misused to get away from religious laws and practices. People pretend to be what they are not just to get away with what they want. This is not grace coming from God.
Aside from this, many think they have to do good works to reach out to and appease God. The truth is God can never be outdone with His generosity and love, and He has been gracious right from the beginning. He is the One who took the initiative to reach out to us, identify Himself with us, and continues to bless us. We don’t do good works to appease Him, but simply because we want to respond to His love by sharing it with others, so that they may also be blessed, just like you. The grace of God makes this possible to do so.
Grace is more meaningful when accomplished by truth. Why were we given grace? Ephesians 4:14-15 says, “We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.” Without God’s grace we would have a very hard difficult time achieving this, impossible to most. Without these two, truth and love, there is no true grace.
When we work, do we have the right work attitude, and true grace, which is in truth and love, or are we envious of other people’s achievements and speak words of slander towards people who do better than us? Colossians 3:23 states,”Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters”. It means don’t try to do good in your work just to get recognized and be promoted. You will never be happy that way. Work as if the Lord owns the business and do your best for His greater glory instead of yours, and the things that you seek follows. We were made to work for the Lord, even as early as the time of Adam and Eve, as shown in Genesis 2:15, where Adam was put to work in the field, even before he even committed original sin. The way we work for the Lord says much about our real relationship with Him.
How do we know if we have God’s grace upon us? There are 4 words that will help us remember:
1. Incarnation – (Read John 2:15) God sent His only Son to us. He made His grace so much available to us through Jesus who is filled with it. Jesus bears God’s splitting image in the form of His human form.He sacrificed Himself and rose again to save us. He didn’t have to do it, but He did, because God loves us.
2. Fullness – Jesus is full of grace. John 1: 16-17 states, “From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth, however, came through Jesus Christ.” With Jesus Christ, it is possible for us to receive grace after grace. Abundance of grace is through our Lord, Jesus Christ.
3. Relationship – God made Himself known to us through Jesus Christ. He didn’t have to, but He did, because God loves us. How Jesus was to us in His human years, that’s how God is to us. God initiated a deeper relationship by reaching out to us through Jesus Christ. Grace is all about our relationship with the Lord.
4. Eternal – The great sacrifice of Jesus made His abundance of grace available. Salvation is made readily available for those who seek Him.
What have you noticed when I discussed about grace? Love was repeatedly mentioned. Grace comes from love. God loves us so much that He reached out to us, identified Himself with us, initiated a relationship with us, and gave us an abundance of blessings. This was all out of love. We didn’t deserve any on it, but we did receive it. Such is grace.
What comes with grace? Faith, Identity, Devotion.
Faith – When one has true grace, he would be faithful in doing what is good and pleasing in God’s eyes, and he would constantly rely on God for everything. One would be careful not to go the opposite path, such as on the path of selfishness and pride.
Identity – We identify ourselves with God as God dwells in our hearts. Others would see God reflected in our actions thoughts and words. We identify God behind our actions as well and give thanks to Him. With this identity we are also reminded of our dependence on Him.
Devotion – Colossians 3:23 teaches us, “Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.” With the grace of God it is easy for you to have this kind of devotion, for your entire perspective on your job changes. Instead of looking at your job as merely as a source of income, and a means for getting by, or a relationship between you and your boss, it becomes a relationship between you and God. You recognize that it is God who gave you this job, you want to make the most out of it so that you may glorify the Lord in your work. It is not about your relationship with your boss or colleagues or crush at office. We are driven by our desire to do our best for the Lord, no matter what our situation is.
Contrary to what people would think that grace makes us work less and depend more on how God would move and act on our behalf, being filled with God’s true grace enables you to live very productive lives. The grace of God enables us to work hard, and turns our work into passion. The grace of God enables us to use our talents and core gifts to the best of our abilities to serve others. The grace of God enables us to share the gospel of God to the lost. It empowers us. As you can see, being filled with the grace of God changes everything. Our lives become more meaningful with it.
The grace of God makes us generous givers, no matter what our financial situation is. 2 Corinthians 8:3-5 says, “For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us,” The generosity here comes from the grace of the Lord which makes us selfless and loving and compassionate to others, in short, giving. With true grace, we never think about what we have left and our needs, but our desire to help others and what others need. Grace makes us loving, selfless and compassionate to others. Generosity is a result of God’s grace.
The grace of God also allows us to be more transparent and sincere with others. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9 states, ” I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” This statement is from Paul to the Corinthians, through the grace of the Lord, of course. As you can see, there is sincerity with God’s grace. There is no intention to fool anyone and there is transparency. There is also truth. Jesus is indeed actually rich beyond your wildest dreams. God made Him poor so that we may be rich. That’s humility. God’s grace allows us to be humble as well. One can’t be sincere and transparent if he wasn’t humble.
Many people seem to be nice but when an opportunity for them to help others, especially financially, they stop short of showing concern.Oxford dictionary may define the word generosity as “giving more than what is being asked or needed.”, and a modern quote also says, “You cannot give what you do not have”, but it is only when we experience God’s generosity will we be able to give in faith, just like in 2 Corinthians 8:8-9.
Generosity is not about our economic situation. The actions showed by the Macedonians show us that their passion to help others outweighed their financial condition. They didn’t care about how they will survive after helping others. They lived in total faith in God. Generosity is the mark of a believer.
Let us pray we may be filled with the Lord’s graces. Pray for the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts and guide us.