Grace Short Meditations: 11. Visible Grace
Acts 6:8 “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power.”
I don’t know about you but sometimes I think we Christians just use words to fill sentences and yet we so often don’t really think what they actually mean. They seem to fit the sentence, they seem to be in the right place, and yet when challenged we struggle to define them, such simple words such as love – and grace!
Back near the beginning of this series I used the phrase, ‘we leapt into the sea of understanding grace’, for it does seem that in reality the meaning of this little word that turns up all over the New Testament requires an ocean of understanding, it is so simple and yet so profound.
So, take for example our starter verse today: “Stephen, a man full of God’s grace. It seems so harmless and many of us will have read it many times, skimming over it with little thought but it seems to me that there is a slightly unnerving truth in this short verse, that is both challenging and unsettling. What do I mean?
Well, they could SEE God’s grace in this man, it made him stand out, so much so that Luke could record this description of him. We’ve been saying again and again that we are all recipients of God’s grace, but I wonder if people could say of me, “They are full of grace”?
So there is the challenge, that although we are ALL receivers of God’s grace, we may not all reflect that grace so abundantly – but it is certainly a goal to pray and work for.
But how does grace increase in us? By being in His presence so that His glory is reflected in us (2 Cor 3:18). That has to be one way. That doesn’t mean just the traditional ‘quiet time’ in the morning (but I hope you do experience Him then) but it is as the famous Brother Lawrence emphasized, living in the presence or God, or living in the awareness of God’s presence, so it natural to talk to Him at any point in the day, maybe even prompted by His still small voice at any point in the day. As we live like that, grace will abound even more, we will receive it more AND express it more. Ah but, you say, I’m too busy to be consciously aware of God all the time! I agree but two things to note. First, I don’t think God wants us to be aware of him every moment. It might have been relatively easy for Brother Lawrence in the quietness of a kitchen preparing vegetables, not so easy when teaching children at home or running a business from home, but perhaps sometimes in the day that awareness might break through. Second, learning to sense God is, I believe, a learning process. When we confront a difficulty and need His grace, we can always pause and ask for it. It will be there.