Monday, October 8, 2012
The Vastness and Costliness of Grace
By Cathy Bryant, ©2012
Grace. Can you wrap your brain around such a simple, yet amazingly vast, subject? And even more importantly, can you fathom the motive behind it, which is pure, unadulterated love?
I have to confess that they both stymie me.
Grace sees the foolish, the weak, the unlovely, and reaches out to help, to deliver, and to save. Grace doesn’t turn away when confronted with betrayal, hatred, and opposition. Instead it prays: “Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Grace isn’t a drop or two here and a cupful there. It’s an ocean, so wide and so deep the finite human mind can’t fully comprehend its reach. It has no boundaries.
God’s grace is enough to wade in, to splash around in. Every second of every minute of every hour we’re immersed in it. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. ~Romans 5:1-2a (NIV, emphasis added)
Since grace and mercy are often used in the same phrase, for a long time I believed they were the same. Only as an adult (and a…ahem, “mature” adult) did I truly come to understand the difference. Mercy is not getting what I deserve—that traffic ticket when I sped through a stop sign, that death sentence for my sin. On the other hand, grace is receiving more than I can ever deserve and more than I’ll ever be able to repay—forgiveness, communion with the Almighty Creator of all that is, the assurance of heaven and home in spite of…well, me.
See what I mean? The more you try to plumb its depths and measure its width, the bigger grace grows. Even in the midst of the most heinous sin known to mankind, grace bursts forth, all-encompassing. As usual, God’s Word says it best: The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. ~Romans 5:20-21 (NIV, emphasis added)
I can only speak for myself, but the sheer vastness of God’s amazing grace moves me. It makes my heart swell with joy and gratitude. It removes barriers between me and those unlike me. It compels me to share God’s goodness with a world that could often care less.
And that thought brings me to another point I never fully considered until recently: grace is costly. As followers of Christ and ambassadors of His grace, we should be aware that our attempts to exhibit grace will often be met with the same suffering and opposition Jesus faced. Not everyone will appreciate our efforts. Some will betray us. Others will loudly denounce us. But still we must prevail in our efforts to make Him and His grace known. Following the leader calls for endurance, even to the point of costly grace—the same grace Jesus showed us on the cross.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ~Ephesians 2:4-9
Cathy is the author of the Miller’s Creek Novels—Texas Roads, A Path Less Traveled, and The Way of Grace. Her desire is to write heart-stirring stories about God’s life-changing grace. Though Texas-born, she currently resides in the beautiful Ozark mountains of northwest Arkansas with her husband of thirty years and near the world’s cutest grandson. You can learn more about her and her books at http://www.CatBryant.com and http://WordVessel.blogspot.com.