About Jesus - Steve (Stephen) Sweetman

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The Various Forms Of God's Grace


1 Peter 1:6 reads:


"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials."


Note the words "all kinds" in the phrase "all kinds of trials."  They are translated from the Greek word "poikilos."  No, poikilos has no relation to Nintendo's Pokémon creatures.  Poikilos implies variety, diversity, or multi-faceted.  It suggests a variegation, as in a multi-coloured cloth.  When Genesis 37:3, in the Greek Old Testament, speaks of Joseph's coat of many colours, the words "many colours" are translated from the Greek word "poikilos."  So, those to whom Peter was writing were experiencing a poikilos of suffering, a variety of types of suffering from a variety of sources.   


Now read 1 Peter 4:10


"Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms."


The words "various forms" in the phrase "God's grace in its various forms," are also translated from "poikilos."  God's grace, then, is variegated or multi-faceted.  It comes in a variety of forms, in a variety of ways, and for a variety of purposes, which includes both His unmerited mercy and His divine ability given to us to accomplish His will in our lives.  I sincerely doubt that we can begin to fathom the totality of God's grace.     


If God's demonstration of grace is so varied, so multi-faceted, so variegated, His very essence must be so varied.  What He does is a product of who He is.  That being so, our limited human resources can never comprehend the variegated essence of God.  Our wildest imaginations fall way short in our attempt to know the totality of God.  Just look at the natural environment in which we exist, a product of God's creativity.  What we call nature is filled with so much variety of life forms that we have yet to discover them all.  Variety is just part of who God is, and one way His essence is demonstrated is through His varied forms of grace. 


Putting the above two verses together in the context of Peter's letter, I conclude with the following.  Those to whom Peter was writing were suffering through a variety of grief-filled trials, yet despite all of the accompanying stresses, God's various forms of grace was available for them so they could serve one another in the midst of the mess.  How could Peter have the audacity to suggest that God wanted His people to serve one another in such times of stress-filled suffering?  Didn't they have more pressing things to attend to?  It was obviously God's will. 


Bringing Peter's encouraging words into our day, I say this.  There are a variety of issues that are stressing the church these days.  They are ripping communities of believers apart.  Many are walking away from long-standing relationships, but whatever the case, this Biblical fact remains.  There are a variety of forms of grace available that can enable us to stay together and serve one another in the midst of these divisive issues.  It's just the will of God in the midst of a mess.   


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