The grace God offers us is astonishing when you really think about it. Stop and sit with this thought for a moment. The God who breathes life into creation, who set the stars in place and holds it all together cares enough about you to call you his beloved and die for you, even while you were actively rebelling against him…amazing. Beyond reaching out to accept that gift, what should be our response to God’s grace?
Lukewarm worship? Social appropriateness? Apathetic personal spiritual practices? Ignoring the needs of the vulnerable? Pride in the achievements of our church or ministry?
No. Please no. Father, forgive us!
Let the heartbeat of the church be renewed in our day! Let us each, individually come before God in repentance of any way we’ve scorned the gift he so freely gave us. You and me both. Let repentance and grace-saturated living start with us. Today.
How would that look? What would a grace-saturated life be like? Let’s talk about our response to God’s grace. Here are five things that should characterize the life of all Christ-followers.
Gratitude and Faith
Maybe I’m cheating and this should count as two, but the reason I’m thinking of them together is this quote from John Piper: “The right response of the heart towards past grace is thankfulness, and the right response toward future grace is faith.” We should have a heart and life overflowing with gratitude for the gift of grace we’ve received as salvation. But, grace is always available to us to meet the challenges of each day. For that, for the grace I know to be available this afternoon, and tomorrow, and next week, I can live in faith.
I can trust God completely for the grace to get me through the next scary shift at work, the doctor’s diagnosis no one wants to hear, the call from the police, or news of a loved one’s death. I can trust there to be enough grace for the uncertainty of tomorrow. And that means I live with an unshakable faith.
There’s no stockpile of grace allotted to each believer so that you need to be rationing it like you’re rationing meat, eggs, and toilet paper right now. It’s a never-ending supply. We never have to worry we’ll run out, we never have to be concerned we’re using it too much, and we never have to feel like we dip into the river of grace too often. There is no end to the grace God gives us, no end!
While we live with gratitude for what we’ve received from God at the time we believed in the gospel, we also walk into every situation in our lives with unshakable faith that there is enough grace from God to meet whatever circumstance we’re stepping into. Every single one.
Imagine you have a vegetable garden and it’s late July. Like most vegetable gardeners, you grow zucchini. Now, if you’ve ever grown vegetables, you know what’s happening. You’ve used all the zucchini you possibly can. You’ve gone through all the “creative uses for zucchini” Pinterest boards. Your kids have caught on to its presence in chocolate zucchini bread. And you’re running out of room on your counter. What’s the next step? Find all your non-gardening friends and start giving those green things away. Hand out chocolate bread recipes to bribe them. Leave them on porches in the middle of the night. Put a sign at the end of the driveway with “FREE” on it. Actively look for ways to be generous with your harvest (If you’re planting a garden this summer and need some of those Pinterest ideas for your own harvest, check this post).
When we have an overabundance of something, it’s easy to be generous. And you have an overabundance of grace. You can give, give, and give away grace and never come to the end of what’s available to give. But, unlike a zucchini harvest, you aren’t responsible for your supply of grace.
Imagine if you were starving with no possible way to feed yourself. You’re not going to survive without food. And someone offers you a never-ending supply of the most delicious food you can imagine (Obviously, I’m no longer talking about zucchini!) that’s also amazingly healthy. You’re starving. Someone provides for you forever with something you couldn’t do for yourself, you have a never-ending supply. Your gratitude should result in generosity.
If you understand grace, you should have a well of generosity that forms in your soul. Grace has been given in unending supply to you with you didn’t deserve it. You have as much as you will ever need to sustain and keep you. You can freely give to everyone around you…because you’ve freely received.
The wealth that we receive with grace, the forever life with God, the unshakable foundation for living, the friendship of Jesus, the adoption into God’s family, the intimacy of a relationship with the Creator, the guidance, direction, comfort, and teaching of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, the power to live our lives to the glory of God…all these gifts that grace brings should continually prompt in us a desire to live worthy of our calling. A desire to please the one we love. A desire to obey, a hunger and thirst for righteousness. We should be drawn into a life set apart for God. We don’t need to be perfect, but we do need to live differently than the world lives as a response to what God’s done for us.
As we live out our response to grace and see gratitude, faith, generosity and a desire for holiness grow in our lives, we’ll have a growing realization of our sinfulness. It would be awesome if our accepting the gift of grace meant that we’d be done with sin. But, nope, unfortunately, our sinful nature is still with us. It just doesn’t control us anymore. As we continue growing up in a spiritual sense, our response to grace will include a deeper awareness of our sin. Which, for one who loves God, should always lead us to repentance.
Repentance isn’t something honored in our culture, no one aspires to be great at it. But, in the kingdom of God, it’s a whole different story. We’ll dig into this a little more in the weeks to come, but living in a rhythm or grace and repentance is the perfect climate to grow in Christlikeness and to encourage others toward Christ.
Christ’s atoning death was “in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:4). The Christian life isn’t driven by a list of dos and don’ts. Its power comes from a relationship with the one who gives abundant life (John 10:10).
For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. (Romans 6:14)
His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3)
You have the power to live a life of abundant joy. You’ve received all you need for life and godliness. Our response to God’s grace lets his power work in our lives for the benefit of others and the glory of God. That sounds like a lot of Christian-ese. But. It’s true. We have what we need to do all God asks of us. We’ve received the most precious gift imaginable and our response to that gift, our response to God’s grace should be lives of gratitude, faith, generosity, holiness, repentance, and power.
If those words don’t describe your life right now, lean into the rhythm of grace in your life. Intentionally cultivate your own experience of grace. Pray for the right perspective of your own sinfulness. Focus on a more intimate relationship with Christ.