The Riches of Grace

Grace is a beautiful word, especially for those touched by it. I suppose there is a word for grace in most every language, but grace is the language of God. It is his heartbeat. Grace is an expression of his love. It is an attribute of his character. God is grace!

When we try to get a handle on exactly what grace is we can say from the Bible that grace is undeserved blessing freely given to people from God. We sometimes see the acronym, G.R.A.C.E. – which stands for God’s riches at Christ expense. This kind of grace shows up in a couple of ways in the Bible. First, there’s what’s called common grace. That means that this kind of grace is common to everybody. Everyone gets it regardless. Jesus expresses this in Matthew 5:45, “That you may be the son’s of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes the sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” The second kind of grace is often called special grace. This grace is not given to all but only to those who are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). This is the grace of salvation. The New Testament is filled with beautiful and powerful statements about this grace. One I especially like is 2 Corinthians 8:9

For you know the grace 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.

Paul begins this articulation of grace with the statement that they know this grace. He is referring to the fact that they don’t merely know about grace, but that they have experienced it for themselves. This first hand experience of grace comes from Jesus Christ. That makes it real rather than just theoretical. Then Paul does something really wonderful. He explains the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ using a metaphor of wealth and poverty. The metaphor goes something like this: Jesus is spiritually rich being the divine Son of God, but he becomes poor for the sake of the truly poor. He does this by taking on our humanity and being obedient to the plan of the Father by bearing our sins in his body on the cross (Philippians 2:6-8; 1 Peter 2:24). What those who are spiritually poor (sinners) get are the riches (righteousness) of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). This is the complete essence of grace. The undeserving are freely given what they desperately need by the only one who can give it. Salvation comes as the gift of God to all who will receive it.

This passage in 2 Corinthians 8 is in the context of Paul encouraging the Corinthian church to follow through on their promise to be generous in giving to the collection for the poor believers in Jerusalem. He is saying that they were once poor spiritually but are now rich through the grace of Jesus Christ. This life changing experience of grace should motivate them to offer grace to others in need of it. Grace that is truly in our hearts will change our hearts. Grace received will cause us to be givers of grace. There is a world out there that is in dire need of grace. God saw your need for grace and was moved by his loving kindness to meet that need. Who in your life needs some grace today?

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