Pastor's Corner: The proof is in the living
Patience is a virtue; virtue is a grace. Grace is a little girl with jam
upon her face. I heard that often as a child. Is grace that frivolous though?
Scripture lifts grace up as one of God's chief attributes. It is unique in
that God is only able to exercise it toward those who do not deserve it. You will perhaps have heard grace defined as "unmerited favor," that is, something good received when it was not deserved. The parable of the unjust steward, though using the word forgiveness, is about grace. His boss forgave an unimaginably huge debt, while he persecuted an underling who owed him a paltry sum. He experienced grace and showed none. The parable is, of course, a picture of God's grace. Because we are sinners, we owe an unimaginable debt we cannot pay. As Christ Jesus, God exercised grace by paying our debt by assuming the consequences in the sacrifice of the sinless Son and crediting to believers the righteousness of the sinless Son.
Do we get the fact that that there is more to the lesson of the parable? Do we comprehend that God judges the authenticity of our belief by the way we live? God is not content with "lip service." God demands genuine faith.
Jesus goes on to say that we will only receive forgiveness (grace) in the measure that we extend forgiveness (grace).
Society has coopted many words, or has turned them into meaningless catchwords (inspired, spiritual, awesome, powerful, etc.). They sound good until you press the user to define what they mean, and then you see confusion. Grace is one of those words. Sometimes it is used to describe the prayer before a meal. Sometimes itis used as a descriptive of physical form or movement. In times past it was used to define one with good manners.
Sometimes it was just a girl's name.
Slave ship captain turned pastor John Newton penned the hymn "Amazing Grace." If you really want to know how to define grace, meditate on the words of that hymn. Never again can one who has digested the truth of those words complain that God has been stingy with grace. Anyone thinking they
deserve more grace has not come to terms with what grace is.
Why is grace amazing? Simply because it is so undeserved. Not in our wildest dreams can we justify being recipients of God's lavish love. We receive it not because we have earned it, but because God chooses to extend it in spite of our deserving just the opposite.
What do people see when they look at our lives? Do they see us mirroring convention, or do they see us as instruments of grace. Do they see us as scheming, backbiting, underhanded wannabees looking for opportunities to get even (like those on the reality shows), or do they see us as beacons of Christlikeness. The big question is-what does God see when He looks at our lives.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers [and sisters], in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God-this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)