Grace. The Grace of God. We have often heard it spoken of. We, perhaps, have even used the term ourselves as we have taught a class, given a sermon, or studied the Bible with someone. But, I wonder how much we really understand it. Do we really know the scope of God's Grace? How far does He extend it? What are the limits? CAN we know these things?
When I was young, I used to read my Bible every evening before bed. I did this because I wanted to. I did it because I loved God. Now, I think we'd pretty much agree that reading the Bible is a good thing, and that doing it everyday is another good thing. And, I liked doing it. But a funny thing happened as the years went by. I was influenced by the "expectations of men." It was imposed upon me that I MUST read my bible on a DAILY basis to be in a right relationship with God, and to be in the best relationship, I needed to do it in the morning. If I didn't do this, then I was falling short of God's expectations of me. The result was that I began to dislike reading my Bible. That dislike sprouted into a type of personal rebellion. Ultimately, my bible study dropped to nearly a non-existent level.
Here's my point from the illustration: Something that I once did because of my love for God suddenly became a rule imposed by man. When that happened, my nature wanted to rebel. When law was imposed, it began to kill the spirit with which I had begun. My motivation was no longer my walk with God, but rather, I was motivated by trying to keep the law, a law created by man. It nearly killed my spiritual life.
Thankfully, I was able to refocus my life, and began to Embrace the Grace. I started reading the scriptures looking for Grace. And, you know, it is all over the Book! It is especially strong in the writings of Paul, but it is scattered all through the Old and New Testaments! And, what a concept it is!
When we mess up and do things that are wrong (and we all do), it is Grace that allows us to stand. When we misunderstand some aspect of doctrine, it is Grace that provides our spiritual footing. When we don't always do every good thing that opportunity allows, Grace fills in the deficit. It is funny how we sometimes think that God's Grace is there for others....as long as they are at least as good, or as correct, or as competent as we ourselves are. We make ourselves the standard by which God may dispense his Grace. Who do we think we are?
If we believe that through the Grace of God, a murderer, or a rapist, or any other person involved in abhorrent sinful activity can be saved, why do we sometimes have trouble believing that God's Grace could extend to someone who other otherwise is spiritually focused, but misunderstands a point of doctrine? Again, it is funny how we think our own potential misunderstandings don't rise to the level of putting us in danger of "losing our salvation," but we so quickly begin to see others as "lost" who don't completely agree with our own perspectives.
I have no idea what the scope and limits are in God's Grace. I'm very happy to leave it up to Him to make the decisions about where it stops in a person's life. Not my job. Don't want it. Perhaps, one day, when we are all in His Presence, we might begin to understand it. In the meantime, I think we should just attempt to accept and appreciate it. Perhaps, we can allow it to be our motivation. Oh, and maybe, just maybe give a measure of our own grace to others as well.
I'd love to read your own perspectives on the Grace of God and the impact it has had on your lives. I'll look forward to the responses.
Grace to you all,