The Lord is my rock
Paul assures us of our salvation with this lovely statement, "By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8).
God saw that we are in need of salvation yet unworthy of it. In his great love he offers it to us as a gift. God "so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (Jhn 3:16). How should we respond to this wonderful gift of salvation?
First we must take hold of the gift, for we have the choice of rejecting or accepting it. Paul as an ambassador of Christ said, "As though God were intreating through us, we beg you, on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2Co 5:18-21). What will be our response to this plea? Shall we say no, or shall we say yes? Since God has come to us and intreated us to receive his gift, for what good reason would we say no? Let us recognise the great gift God offers. Let us take hold of it gladly.
Have you ever offered a gift to someone and they refused to accept it? How did you feel? How does God feel when someone refuses to take the gift he offers?
Second, we must be thankful for the gift. Paul said, "I thank God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus" (1Co 1:4). Paul expresses gratitude for grace when he speaks of his own salvation (1Tm 1:12-17). It is interesting that in the Greek, the word for "thank" (1Tm 1:12) and the word for "grace" (1Tm 1:14) are the same word charis, in the form of a verb for "thank", and in the form of a noun for "grace". We reflect this in English when we speak of giving thanks at our meals as "saying grace". We mean, of course, "saying gratitude". By this observation, that the Greek uses the same word for both grace and gratitude, we emphasise that any response to the grace of God other than gratitude would be quite incongruous.
Have you ever given a gift to someone and they neglected to thank you? How did you feel? How does God feel when someone shows little gratitude for the gift he has given?
Third we must not nullify the gift. Paul said, "I do not nullify the grace of God..." (Gal 2:20-21). We would nullify the grace of God by going back to the way we were, rebuilding what through grace was destroyed. Jude speaks of those who treat grace as a permission to sin, who "turn the grace of God into licentiousness" (Jde 1:4). From such we should turn away. Once we have been saved by faith and grace, we need to "continue in" that faith and grace (Col 1:19-23).
Have you ever offered a gift to someone and they treated it carelessly, lost it or ruined it, and ceased to benefit from it? How did you feel? How does God feel when someone nullifies the gift he gave?
Fourth we must share grace with others. There are certain gifts people give us which we can share with others and yet still have just as much for ourselves. For example if someone imparts to you some knowledge, and you impart it to others, you still have in full the knowledge you were given. If someone gives us a piece of geranium, and we plant it, we soon are able to give a piece of it to someone else, who can then soon give some to others. Yet our own geranium, the geranium of the one who gave to us, the geraniums of those with whom we shared ours, and the geraniums of those with whom they shared theirs, all grow bigger and better! Grace is that kind of gift. We are able to "share with him who has need" and to "give grace to those who hear" —if only they will hear us (Eph 4:28-29)
Have you ever offered a gift to someone and they were selfish with it when they could have shared it with others? How did you feel? How does God feel when people do not share the gift he gave them?
Fifth and finally, we should respond to God's grace with humility. "God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1Pe 5:5-6). Paul said, "God forbid that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 6:14).
Have you ever offered a gift to someone and they then became haughty, and looked down on others who were not so fortunate or favoured? How did you feel? How does God feel when we are not humble in regard to the gift he has given us?