What is your definition of the grace of God?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The gracious God showed us mercy by sending his Son Jesus Christ who became a man and becoming the bridge for mankind to bring us back to God! But when does God’s work on us stop? We turn to Scripture again and we see it in Philippians 1:6 “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” God’s work continues all throughout the time we live on this earth.
On cursory examination, the challenges that all of us face in this world, whether you believe in Christ or not, might appear similar. But, if we examine closely, we will see that our lives are definitely tougher than the people who do not follow Christ. Why do I say that? Imagine someone cursed you out on the street for something that was innocuous or even imaginary, you are not at fault, what are the possible reactions one can choose to have? The follower of Christ has a limited option than a person not in Christ might have. One cannot curse back or could choose to ignore, but the Word of God would command the follower of Christ and you can find that in Luke 6:28 “bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” That’s tough, is it not? Actually not only is it tough, but it is also impossible!
Life, in general, is tough, how do we then live this impossible Christian life? In recent days, I am beginning to understand more clearly the gospel and what the “grace” of God means. I have been somewhat duped (deceived myself) to see grace in a particular way but God is opening my eyes to this world of grace He has created for all of us and it is tailor-made for each one so that we might see Him as He is.
How about this verse being part of the definition of grace?
In 2 Corinthians 12:8-9: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from 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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
Now wait a minute, are you saying that a “thorn in the flesh” is a good thing and needed (sometimes) to experience grace? A trial, a pain in the body, a sickness that will not go away, a loss, a pain in the heart, a betrayal, a loved one forsaking you, a relative dissing you, a child letting you down, and even abandoning you after you cared for them. A thorn is good? This is not how it should be! But yet it is in this broken world, these “thorns” get our attention and make us completely rely on our Lord and Master Jesus Christ and his body, the church!
If you do have these kinds of thorns, and they will not go away, we can react as Paul did in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” For the kind of worship we see in Paul’s life, we need to understand our God and the severe mercy (sometimes) He extends to us which truly is “grace” to us. May the Spirit open our eyes!
Donald Thampy is a Ruling Elder and leads a weekly Men’s Ministry Bible Study.