And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace.
1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
I feel sometimes like I have lost a lot over the past several years, but I try not to be someone who compares “wounds” or problems. I know several people who DO like to do that, and I understand the desire for sympathy behind that behavior, but I try not to be someone who does that. The truth is that even though I’ve lost much, I have also gained a lot more–most especially my salvation through faith in Christ. Had I not lost much, I wonder if I would have ever sought and found my Lord and Savior, if I would have continued to grow in faith and love for the Lord. So, whatever I may have been through, I still focus on Him who has given me the great gift of salvation and eternal life.
It’s that gift of grace that many find hard to understand. How can I count myself blessed when I have suffered so much? I have friends who suffer from broken marriages, chronic illness, family strife, and uncertain futures, and yet you can see the same joy and faith at work in them. What’s our “secret”? Grace, pure and simple.
But what is “grace”? I was perusing the Bible this morning for some verses I remembered about grace, and the three Scriptures above came to mind. From them, we can see several things about grace:
• Grace comes from the fullness of God’s love for us.
The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
• Grace is a gift from God.
• Grace has the power to save us.
• Grace is something we access through faith.
• Grace is not something we can create or gain through anything we ourselves do. We cannot earn grace.
The word in Greek is χαρισ (“charis”), which comes from another word χαιρω (“chairo”), which means pleased, content, cheerful, blessed. So grace is something that blesses us with God’s own cheer, His own happiness, with His true joy.
1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
This happiness through grace is not something we can create ourselves, it is strictly something we receive from God through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And we are blessed not by worldly pursuits but by setting our hearts and minds on the things of God. We may, in this life, think we are happy and content, but true happiness, true joy comes only from God. That is why Paul, while languishing in chains in a Roman jail, could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4) Paul had tapped into the joy of the Lord by delighting in the Word of God, by meditating on the gospel day and night, by seeking not worldly treasures but heavenly rewards.
Out of the fullness of His love and mercy, God has given us Jesus Christ. This Jesus is the very Son of God sent to die for our sins and bring us eternal life. (John 3:16-17) Having thus been plucked from the fire, how can we not be happy in the Lord? Our earthly troubles are nothing, because if we have been saved through faith, then God is working out better things for us.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,
18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
It is only through God’s grace that we can withstand the many misfortunes of earthly life, the trials and persecutions and chaos and strife. It is only through the gift of God’s own joy that we ourselves know true joy in the midst of pain and sorrow. It is only through the gracious gift of God’s abounding love that, even in the heart of darkness, we are able to love others and find peace.
“Grace for grace,” John wrote. The grace does not end with the first gift, nor with the second, but God’s grace is a continuing bounty of joy and peace. The grace of God flows from God’s fullness to fill us up when we are empty, to give us hope when we are hopeless, to show us love when we despair, to give us something solid upon which to stand when it seems we cannot stand at all.
I am still amazed at what peace and joy I have gained through my faith in Jesus Christ. I could not have found such happiness on my own in this world. Oh, certainly I love my children and family, and they are a joy to me, but I know that they, too, are part of God’s gracious gift to me. The Lord has seen fit to bless me in ways no one can deserve. And that really is the point of grace: it is not what we deserve but it is given to us anyway. As sinners, we deserve discipline and punishment, and yet God, out of His own fullness, out of His own boundless reserves of love and mercy and joy, has seen fit to bless us with grace for grace. “Blessed is the man” said the Psalmist at the very beginning of the Psalms, and at the very end of the Psalms, he wrote, “Praise the Lord!”
Praise the Lord indeed for His grace!
Holy Father God, we praise You for Your grace! For out of Your own endless love You have seen fit to bless us with salvation–even when we were still lost in our own weakness and sin. I thank You, Lord God, for the many blessings of my life. May my life always reflect Your grace, and my I always serve You with humility and faith. Thank You indeed for Your grace. Amen.