I recently stood at a cash register, facing an unhappy cashier. Her words, inconsiderate and harsh. My gut reaction, “Defend yourself! Put her in her place!” Instead I paused, sensing a gentle nudge… extend grace to this broken woman.
And then I remembered: I didn’t deserve God’s grace any more than this woman deserved mine. Yet, He freely offered it – to me and to her. Both tarnished by sin. Both loved by Him. Both in need of grace. So I smiled, offered an encouraging word and thanked God for once again showing me – and this woman – His grace.
We find evidence of God’s grace all throughout Scripture.
The book of Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul to the Christians living in and around the city of Ephesus. It is believed Paul was imprisoned when he penned this letter and intended it to be shared with house churches in the region after being read to the local church.
After greeting the church in typical Paul fashion, Paul jumps right into acknowledging and praising God for His wonderful spiritual blessings. He then spends the next several verses listing some of those blessings: they had been chosen (v.4), they had been set apart for adoption (v.5) and they had been blessed (v.6). Paul was bent on simplifying what God had done for them. And it all came down to grace.
So, what is this “glorious grace” Paul speaks of in Ephesians 1:6? In the New Testament, the Greek word charis is most often translated grace. In our secular world, this type of grace is defined as favor, kindness, goodwill, mercy or pardon. But when we look at grace from a biblical standpoint, it takes on an even greater meaning.
Biblical grace is better understood as the freely given, unmerited favor of God poured out on those who believe. This grace, this unmerited favor, is the single most important aspect of our spiritual salvation. Paul understood this concept and wanted so badly for others to grasp it as well. So much so that he mentions grace more than a hundred times in the New Testament books he authored.
In this passage, Paul mentions three points involving God’s glorious grace: (1) the avenue by which God sent it; (2) the blessing of having received it; and (3) the praise given because of it.
The Avenue of Grace
So often in today’s world, we think of love, mercy and grace as synonymous. What we sometimes fail to realize is that God’s grace is a direct byproduct of His divine love and mercy. It was His mercy (compassion for us in our helpless state), blended with His great love, that compelled Him to make a way for us to reach Him when there was no way. By way of Jesus Christ dying on the cross, our sin debt was fully satisfied, and God’s grace came into play.
The Blessing of Grace
As children of God, the expression of God’s grace is something we continue to experience throughout life. His freely given, unmerited favor is not a one and done. Because we are in Christ, it is ours to enjoy every day. We are to live in such a way that His grace abounds within us and pours out of us into the lives of others.
The Praise of Grace
When we understand more clearly what God did to secure our redemption – when we realize where we’d be had He not come to our rescue – praise becomes our natural response. And what better time to reflect on that redemption than today? May we not rush into the victory of Resurrection Sunday without first sitting through the sorrow of Good Friday.
Dear God, may we never take for granted the gift of Your grace. May we be quick to share with others what Your grace has meant for us, and what it can mean for them.
Friend, how will you allow God’s grace to flow from your heart into the lives of those around you this Easter weekend?