Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Effortless Grace

I just wasn’t “feeling it” on my bike ride today. Truth be told, I think I was dehydrated – a strict No-No
for which I paid the just punishment.

Still as I pedaled home in granny gear, I made peace with myself about the effort. My inner dialogue went something like this… “Clark, you’re out here for exercise. Your heart and your scales at home need you do the hard work. You did the hard work to gain your weight (tamale making is NOT easy!), now you need to do the hard work to lose the weight. Shut up and pedal.”

And so I did. And just at the instant that I truly had that conversation with myself, my bagpipes Pandora station blessed me with Amazing Grace.

Let’s get a word from our Sponsor:
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God. (Ephesians 2:8)
The amazing thing about Grace is that it really is, by definition and by the meaning of the word itself, a gift from God. It would be fair to flip Ephesians 2:8 and say…
By the gift of God you have been saved through faith; and that not by anything you’ve done, it is a result of the Grace of God.
Think about it this way, do you spend a fair amount of time contemplating birthday and Christmas gifts for friends and family? (Our family enjoys a Christmas gift-giving tradition that takes months to accomplish.) Ok, let’s say it’s December 23rd. You’ve thought, shopped, wrapped, and placed presents under the tree. Then, let’s say… just hypothetically here… your ten-year old is throwing the Frisbee in his room (again… which you’ve told him many times NOT to do) and he breaks a window. What do you do?

Do you do a last minute audit of “who’s been naughty or nice”?  Do you rush down to the Christmas tree and remove one of his gifts? I didn’t ask if you would THINK ABOUT IT! But would you actually do that? Heavens no! Not only would it wound your child, it would wound you! All your planning and generosity would fly out the window (through the broken glass!).

If you are gracious like that, how much more gracious is God? In fact, that’s the amazing thing about Grace, you don’t earn it, you don’t qualify for it, you certainly can’t maintain it. Grace is bound up solely in the loving character of God.

Want to go at it the other way? What if your teenage daughter, in anticipation of better presents under tree, did all the laundry between Thanksgiving and Christmas? Would you take back the good gifts you had selected for her and go get her better ones? Well, I hope she does the laundry, but I doubt your gifts are based on performance.

And that is the Amazing thing about Grace!! It is not based on anything you do. It’s not a year-end performance bonus. Salvation a GIFT!

Followers of Jesus don’t have to earn the gift of salvation. We don’t have to prove ourselves worthy of God’s generosity. When we became born again through faith in Jesus, we entered the family of God… and that means at Christmas-time, there are some prettay prettay good gifts under the tree. I mean… if you think eternal life in the presence of God is a “good thing”.

Stay Amazed by Grace… and relax a little bit. Nothing is gonna happen to that present under the tree.

Clark H Smith

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