Saturday, August 18, 2012

Love & Grace

Grace is simply this: what God has done for us. Grace is the undeserved, merciful kindness of God toward us. It is the work of God that flows forth from His unending love. The result of God’s grace working in us is God’s grace working through us. Grace includes the power of God working in and through us by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We have been saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8). God’s plan of the redemption of mankind to Himself is the gift of His grace alone, and He has accomplished this through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for our sin. And we continue to walk with Jesus by His grace, the leading and empowering of His Holy Spirit.

Love is defined for us in 1st Corinthians chapter 13: Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13:4-8 NKJV).

John tells us that “God is love (1 John 4:16).”

God has revealed His love for us in the life of Jesus Christ. Jesus set aside His own life and was obedient to death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2). God did this because of His immeasurable love for us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16).

I am in awe of God’s love and grace for me. What an incomprehensible but wonderful truth to contemplate and revel in! Yet, as I continue to walk with the Lord, He has revealed to me that I do not usually extend the same kind of love and grace to others in my life as He has extended to me in Christ. I love to worship God and to receive from Him. So how can I go right out of church and be rude to someone and act selfishly? How is it that I show so little grace when it comes to someone doing wrong by me? James said, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so (3:10).” If I am to be a follower of Jesus, I must follow Him in His love and grace, and in His humility and sacrifice.

Jesus said, “this is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends (John 15:12-13).”

This is a tremendous call for our lives, and impossible outside of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit in us. We are in Christ and Christ is in us. Paul said, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me (Gal. 2:20)” and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Phil. 4:13).”

The Christian life can be summed up in these two words: love & grace. The love and grace of God toward us, and the love and grace flowing forth from us to the friends and enemies around us in our lives; flowing forth like God’s grace flows forth to us from His heart of love.

Lord, help me to be loving and gracious to those that You bring across my path. Empower me to walk in Your way. Fill me with Your love and give me victory over my selfish flesh. Change me into a servant. Change my heart to give undeserved kindness to those who do me wrong. Empower me to forgive as You have forgiven me. Empower me to suffer long, to be kind, to not seek my own and to endure all things for Your glory.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139). In Jesus name, Amen.

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