About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Meaning Of God's Grace
We often think of
God's grace as being His unmerited or undeserved favour extended to us,
but there is more to His grace than that.
There is no doubt that God is gracious, but thinking of His grace
in terms of merely benefitting us is a bit self-centered.
It neglects what I understand to be another meaning of God's grace
that we often miss in Biblical theology.
The apostle Paul
made the following statement in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
"But he [God]
said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect
in weakness.' Therefore I will
boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power
may rest on me."
Grace, as defined
by undeserved favour, doesn't seem to fit in the above verse.
In the midst of Paul's weakness, God did not extend His undeserved
favour to Paul by removing his weakness.
Grace, in Paul's situation must mean something other than unmerited
favour. I believe it means
God's divine ability given to Paul to endure his weakness in the process
of doing God's will.
I often wonder how
Paul felt during his two year imprisonment in Caesarea. Where was God's graciousness
then? Why didn't God free Paul
from prison? Why did He allow
Paul to be put in prison in the first place? Grace,
as defined by God's divine ability given to us to endure all things, was
what God gave Paul during his years of captivity.
Look at what 2
Corinthians 8:7 says.
you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete
earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you — see that you also
excel in this grace of giving."
The context of the
above verse concerned Paul encouraging the Corinthian believers to give a
generous financial gift to the poor believers in Jerusalem, just as the
poverty stricken Macedonian Christians had previously done.
God's grace, or the ability given to us to do His will in all
circumstances, including poverty, was available to the Corinthian
believers. Paul called this
God-given ability the "grace of giving."
Grace does not
always mean undeserved favour in the Bible.
It can mean God's divine ability given to us to do what He
requires, no matter the situation. 1
John 2:5 makes this point. It
anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This
is how we know we are in him:"
John tells us that
God's love is expected to be completed in the life of the believer.
That is to say, the love of God demonstrated in the life of Jesus
was meant to find its completion, or, intended goal, in the lives of
Christians. God's love is
meant to flow from Jesus, to the believer, and then to others.
God has the ability to extend undeserved favour to others. We
don't. We happily receive God's love and grace but extending it to others
is sometimes difficult. It,
therefore, requires us to receive God's gracious, divine ability, to
extend His gracious undeserved favour to others.