For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
- Ephesians 2:8
In Strong's concordance, G5485 the term, grace, means favour. Many ministers have preached on the unmerited favour of God, which is precisely the grace in question.
For one to obtain grace, it must be granted by others. Grace is letting someone off a charge or debt. Grace can't be bestowed by ourselves to ourselves, as we all show self-mercy many times daily — we let ourselves off for things we wouldn't let other's off.
Grace can only be given by the creditor — the one who is owed the debt. If we owe a debt to someone, we cannot extend grace to ourselves, because the debt remains outstanding. If this were the case, every store-thief would let themselves off every charge; but it is the store owner that must extend that generosity.
Another example of grace is like a young boy who broke his neighbour's side fence showing off to his mates, then apologised to the owner. Instead of the neighbour wanting the money for a new fence to teach the boy "a lesson he'll never forget" (does that phrase bring back memories?), he shows merciful kindness and says, "Don't worry about it, son. I'll pay for it!"
God's grace is more valuable than the price of a fence, and the debt we owe is one we cannot repay, anyhow. Our debt is the death sentence.
A Christian is saved from Hell by the grace of someone else. This grace, or favour, can only come from God, who has ultimate authority over all things. Satan has been given authority to take all people to Hell. However, when they repent of breaking God's laws, and accept Jesus Christ into their hearts, that authority is over-ruled and they are freed.
They then pass on this gift of grace. As I wrote in yesterday's message, Stephen, the martyr, showed grace to the Pharisees who were stoning him over false charges.
It was his innocent body they were stoning — his property — so he had the right and authority to put up a fight. He could have picked up some rocks and began hurling them back. He may not have won but he might have got a some good throws in (When I was young, we often had stone fights).
Instead, amid this trouble, where he could have let his actions go either way, he gave the authority to the Holy Spirit within him; he gave over the rule. That strength of character enabled Stephen to extend grace to the wicked; and we don’t know who in the crowd was saved due to hearing his final gracious statement.
When grace is applied, there is always a cost to the creditor not the debtor. The cost to Stephen? A brutal journey down a one-way path to his death; very similar to Christ.
It may not eventuate in our death, but we can extend grace to others for many things. We all do things wrong, making mistakes with words we speak and things we do, and it's nice to be let off a charge or two. We are guilty, but it's gratifying when kind-hearted people say, "ahh, don't worry about it."
We have the power to extend grace and forgiveness, just like that, for wrongs done against us. However, we might be apt to think we will lose something if we extend that grace and let them off. Well, God lost His Son extending grace to us.
Today's Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for the grace you extended to me. I am sorry it took the death of your son to do that, but I am thankful. Please help me to extend grace more often, and in more ways than I currently do.