Grace Short Meditations: 1. God who Gives
1 Cor 4:7b “What do you have that you did not receive?
I want to move on to consider a word that has many meanings but which, I suspect, is really very little understood by us Christians, let alone the world outside, a word that has the potential to transform believer and unbeliever alike. It arises mostly, it seems, in the context of salvation and while I do not in any way want to diminish that concept (and we will look at it in the context along the way) I want to suggest that it is much, much bigger. I am going to suggest that ‘grace’ is actually anything that comes from God as a free, undeserved gift to us human beings. Please note the word ‘anything’. Let’s consider that as our starting point.
We used to have children’s books titled “Don’t thank me”, I believe they were called. They went something like this: Be thankful for milk – thank the shops for providing milk – don’t thank us we only keep it, thank the farmer who provides it – thank you farmer for sending us the milk – don’t thank me, thank the cows who provide the milk – thank you cows for producing milk – don’t thank us, thank the …and so it goes on back to God.
The truth is that we exist because of God (Heb 1:3) and all good comes from God (Jas 1:17), everything we have has come from outside us, ultimately from God.
Paul’s quote, as our starter verse, comes with great clarity in the Message version: “For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing?”
So you are clever, you are bright, you are handsome or beautiful. How much of that did you contribute to? No, you might have used it or developed it but all the good of you, that was a gift. Some of us wear these things like beautiful clothes that show us off but we fail to realize what is the origin of them. In the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar felt he was all powerful: “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Dan 4:30) It was only after he had been through a bout of madness did he face the reality of the greatness and goodness of God. All that we have is the gift of God. We didn’t earn it, it was given to us freely. That’s what grace is. Have you ever seen it that big? Grace is EVERYTHING that is good that comes from God to us, freely given, not earned or deserved. Can we ask the Lord to help us see that as we’ve never seen it before?