Grace, as one person has said, is not a blue-eyed blonde. As silly as this initial quote might sound, we do need to ask then, what is grace? Grace. It is one of those words that has become so “Christianized” that if we are not careful, we can lose its wonderous life-changing effects upon our lives. It’s something (forgetting how amazing it is) I don’t ever want to happen to me. Because of this, with the help of Jesus, I fight this grace-amnesia every single day. Here are some thoughts about grace that might help you too, fight the over-familiarity of grace . . .
First, grace is not a “thing”, not a commodity that Jesus gives us more or less of apart from Himself. Grace always comes to us, is experienced by us, in Jesus Himself. Yes, grace, as the classical definition suggests, is a “gift”, but Jesus is both the Giver of grace and the Gift of grace (Titus 2:11). He gives Himself It may sound weird, but if I don’t want God/Jesus/the Spirit in my life, but I do want “grace”, then grace will elude me, frustrate me, and panting for more because for whatever reason, I elude Him, do not draw near to Him. In short, if I want “grace”, I must also want God. That is good news, because no matter how hard I try, I will not want God on my own. Only God can empower me to want God (John 6:44).
Second, grace is for the sinner, not for the “good” person. In I Timothy Paul reminds Timothy, first of all, that the “law” is not made for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels . . .” (I Tim.1:9). The law is good if one uses it lawfully. One “lawful” use of the law is to awaken us to our sin (Romans 7:7-12). If I make cookies, let’s say for a certain occasion, let’s say, a potluck at church. I might scribble a note that says, “do not eat the cookies, save for potluck”. Now we know what such a sign (a “law”!) might evoke from those who read it. It only makes you want to eat the cookies! It’s good to remind us to not eat the cookies, but this “law” by itself, can never give us the power to not eat the cookies! Now this can lead us to despair, or it can lead us to Jesus Himself, the source of all grace (Read Romans 7:24-25). Paul testifies all this led him to Jesus Himself. “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here’s a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am the worst.” (I Tim.1:13-15). Let me encourage you. If you feel like you are unworthy of Him, of His grace, you are correct! Don’t despair. The only people who are “worthy” of His grace are those who realize they are decidedly not worthy of Him. He loves to love people who know of their need of Him.
Third, and related to the two thoughts above, I ask you to consider the words of John Newton, a former slave-trader turned Anglican priest. In 1773 he wrote the well-known hymn “Amazing Grace”, the original title of which was “Faith’s Review and Expectation.” Toward the end of his life, Newton was blind, weak, and tottering with a variety of health issues. It was during this time he said, “Although my memory’s fading, I remember two things very clearly: I am a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior.” Friend, I would ask of you, pray for you, to not let your sins defeat you. Jesus has defeated your sins. Do you believe this? He paid for them. Suffered for them. So, in one sense, your sins are not the problem. Jesus has taken care of our sin problem. Our problem, if we fail to accept Him is our righteousness because our righteousness, if depended upon, will keep us from Him. He doesn’t need or want our righteousness, but we do need His righteousness. He offers you this, if you would only give Him, in exchange, your sins (2 Cor. 5:19-21). Accept His gracious offer. Jesus came into the world, remember, to save sinners. That “qualifies” you and me. So, when you are saved by His grace, remember, Jesus is not giving you a blue-eyed blonde. He is giving you Himself. May you accept, by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, our Wonderful Savior.