I’ve been thinking about grace a lot lately.
Coming to terms with my own sin in the past few weeks probably spurred this on. And being sick and having nothing to do but think didn’t hurt.
At any rate, I was thinking about grace. I think it doesn’t get taught often enough from the pulpit. I mean, the salvation aspect of grace does, but there’s so much more to grace than that.
For years my understanding of grace was “unmerited favor,” which, of course, is true, but only the tip of the iceberg.
Because if unmerited favor is the whole definition, then how, in Paul’s struggle with the “thorn in his side,” was he satisfied with God’s answer that “My grace is sufficient for you?” How could salvation help him with a daily struggle that appears to have been a physical challenge?
I pondered this a lot when I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, back in the day. Not just because I spent a lot of time lying around and thinking, but because I needed to know. Talk about a thorn in one’s side – CFS is pretty much the epitome of that.
I asked a pastor if I was missing the point on grace and he answered that I was thinking of it from only one of its aspects, but that I needed to explore the thought that grace doesn’t end at salvation.
And so began a long-term study into the concept.
Even just thinking about the English word for grace brings up a multitude of definitions – someone might be said to be graceful, meaning she moves smoothly and with beauty. People can be said to “grace us” with their presence, meaning they are condescending to meet with inferiors. People are called “gracious” when they rise above a slight, when they agree to do a favor, or even when they simply have good manners.
The ancient Greek term also had a connotation of favor – extending grace meant honoring and looking upon a person in a positive manner.
I think all of these ideas are present in the grace God extends to us daily, but also so much more.
Which is why it puzzles me that for so many years I thought it only applied to salvation. I mean, that would be enough, sure. Except that it isn’t just that, so why was that never taught in the thousands of church services I attended over the years?
Thinking grace is only about salvation is like seeing it as a doorway at the end of a dark tunnel – the doorway leads to heaven, and the light of heaven shines in a little, illuminating the area around the door. So grace is our ticket out of this present darkness, and the closer you get to the exit, the greater the effect you feel of it, but it really only serves as a portal. The most it does on a day to day basis is to serve as a promise for a future date.
This is a very narrow view of grace, to be sure. But this was all I ever heard taught about it.
And yet I knew, on an experiential level, that there was more to it. God’s grace is poured out upon us every single day, so it is obviously not just for salvation. And that understanding of grace, rather than being a light at the end of a tunnel, is more like the entire side of that tunnel has been removed.
Grace is not just marking the end of the tunnel – it illuminates every step we have left in our journey down that tunnel. It guides us past every obstacle between that exit point and where we are now. It warms our days, gives us a glimpse of eternity. That’s how grace permeates our days.
Not pie in the sky, by and by.
But something that changes everything, every day, no matter what challenges life throws at you.
Grace is what Peter was talking about in 2 Peter 1:3 – “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness…” (ESV)
And this is why Paul was able to say, in 2 Cor 12:8-9, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (ESV)
Grace is something God gives us day to day, as well as something He extends to us in offering salvation. And His grace IS sufficient for us.
I live that grace. Please pray for me today re grace. I need it so very much.
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A beautiful explanation of God’s grace. Yes, we do need His grace every moment of every day. Without it we would be lost in life’s mazes and the world’s tangles, to say nothing of the devil’s traps. You might find it an interesting mini-study to check out “thorn(s) in the flesh” in the Old Testament. Every time they are mentioned they refer to people who are enemies. So could Paul’s “thorn” be the beatings, stoning, etc. by people who stood as his enemies? Thanks for sharing what you have learned about grace. God bless.
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Wow, I did not know that about the term “thorn in the flesh!” Thank you for sharing. This is certainly food for thought.
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Reblogged this on Truth in Palmyra and commented:
Muffy, great post! Often we accept gladly the gift of grace for our salvation, then seemingly forget that we have an entire rest of our lives to live! God gives us grace not only for eternity but for day by day in this life. Amen to all of this.
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