This is my last article in a short series of where we have looked to regain a fresh glimpse of such an overly used word for Christians – grace. In the first article, I mainly shared how God’s grace accepts. Moving on to my second post we looked at how God’s grace gives. And, finally, in this blog post, I want to communicate that God’s grace allows us to receive.
To get an understanding of how God’s grace allows us to receive from Him, let’s revisit a passage we looked at previously.
How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! (1 John 3:1)
Though God gives us His abundant grace and love, and He accepts us as His beloved sons and daughters, one of the hardest things is for us to truly receive these truths into our hearts. This is where we need the grace of God to draw us into a position of receiving from Him. It does no good to simply read the Scriptures and have a head knowledge of the beautiful things that belong to us who are in Christ. It is only by God’s free grace that we are ever able to receive that free grace.
If it were left up to us, no doubt we would probably wallow in condemnation, self-pity and shame. But it is God’s grace which is lavished on us and draws us to opens our arms, opens our hearts and receive from our Father.
Let’s take a look at something Paul said in Romans 5:20:
Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.
Now, I am very aware that Paul states only a few verses later:
Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1-2)
So, please hear my heart that I am not encouraging us to continue in sin. Yet, what I am challenging us to realize is that there are certain truths that we have to understand first before other truths will begin to make sense. There is a kind of spiritual principle in grasping this: milk then meat!
Thus, in Romans, Paul clearly states first: ‘Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.’ Thus, as God’s children, I believe we need to drink of this milk first before we move on to handle the meat. I believe the Father wants us to begin by knowing how much He gives (grace upon grace upon grace) and how much He accepts (you are none other than sons and daughters of God) before He expects us to walk out the meaty things of our faith.
Oh yes, we need to be moving towards eating the solid foods and meat (Hebrews 5:11-14). It is a tragedy that many Christians are not looking to mature in their faith. But, remember, no one begins with meat. That is true both naturally and spiritually. And, if you’re thinking, ‘Well, I’ve been a Christian for twenty years, so I need only meat.’ To this, I simply ask – Are you ready for meat? If you haven’t grasped Romans 5:20 first, then I do believe you will have a hard time walking out Romans 6:1-2. Trust me on this one. And, still, even if you do understand Romans 5:20 well enough, there is no harm in revisiting this beautiful truth about the grace of God.
Where sin has increased, grace abounded all the more!
Another thing I have learned in my few years as a Christ-follower is that we cannot display grace for others if we have not first received God’s grace for ourselves. What do I mean by this? Well let me ask you as question: What is the second greatest commandment?
You shall love your neighbor as yourself, right? (Matthew 22:39)
So many times, we focus so much on those first five words – You shall love your neighbor – that we forget the last two words – as yourself. I believe these couple of words are very important. For me, I find it hardest to love others when I am angry at myself, full of contempt and bitterness toward myself for my own sin. It is outright impossible to display grace to others when I have none for myself.
Thus, many times, I have to start by receiving God’s lavish grace for myself and forgive myself. And, once I do receive grace upon grace upon grace for myself, it is amazing that there is much grace available for others.
This is encapsulated by another spiritual principle: grace in, grace out!
If we do not love ourselves, if we do not have grace for ourselves, there is no way we will be able to love others and have grace for them. I am not asking us to embrace a me-first, selfish minded mentality. But I am asking us to consider that we will not be able to love other’s if we don’t first start by receiving such love and grace for ourselves from our Father.
Again, it’s milk then meat. Know that grace abounds much more than our sin. And then, once we have this in our heart, we can take steps toward not continuing to walk in sin. And, of course, this is also by His grace and grace alone.
Secondly, it’s grace in, grace out. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Receive from Him first, so that you can then pour it out to others.
As we close, let us truly walk away with these things deep in our hearts:
- Jesus is full of grace and truth.
- Jesus is seated on a throne of grace.
- God’s grace accepts – we are His treasures and He thinks about us constantly.
- God’s grace gives – grace upon grace upon grace (like the ocean waves).
- God’s grace allows us to receive – milk then meat; grace in, grace out.