Ephesians 2 : 8 - 9, For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. NKJV
Since Adam and Eve fell in the garden, mankind has been performance based. Being performance based is rooted in the fact that, as sinners, we lost our spiritual identity and worth. Therefore, we struggle with not having an identity or value because sin stripped us of our spiritual inheritance. We have sought to earn or regain them through being good enough or by working hard enough (performance). It doesn't matter how many jobs we work or how many titles that men give to us; none of our works can match the value and worth of God's love for us.
I understand why the Lord had Paul write about GRACE being a gift that doesn't have to be earned because God knows how we struggle. However, the point that I want to discuss with you today isn't about performance, or trying to earn what has already been freely given. Instead, it is about the abuse of God's unmerited favor called "grace."
Abuse can occur when someone has been given a precious gift that cost them absolutely nothing. Paul explains the free gift of God's love in Romans 5 by teaching us that while we were yet sinners, God demonstrated His love for us by giving Jesus for our sins. The world didn't know or understand the work of the cross until after it was all over. Even so, God loved us, even though we were sinners and ignorant of His love, and of the grace that He had given on our behalf.
Since believers enter salvation and experience God's unmerited favor without any real, personal cost, there is a tendency for many to abuse or take grace for granted. Why do you suppose God would entrust such a precious and valuable gift of love to former sinners who might, at times, handle it with carelessness? The best way to teach someone how to be responsible is to give them responsibility. God requires us to be responsible for the free gift of His love and mercy called grace. The Bible says, "Where much is given, much will be required."
We might not start out treating God's grace as sacred, but let us go through some fiery trials because we walked away from His love for the pleasures of this world, and it will be the goodness of God that will recapture our attention. I'll explain.
Suppose a person has been gloriously saved. Nonetheless, they decide to use grace as an excuse to go back into sin. Now suppose that their sin causes them to get into trouble, and they face severe consequences. However, instead of God allowing that person to face the full brunt of their rebellion, He decides to give them another opportunity. That "second chance" shows them the goodness and longsuffering of God while under grace. When a person who abuses grace, but God allows them to experience mercy instead of judgment (they knew they deserved a lot worse), they will see the goodness of God. According to Romans 2, His goodness produces or brings about a truly repentant heart.
It will be the goodness of God that will humble our prideful self and cause us to begin to respect and esteem the value of God's gift of love. If you're a child of God, then you have experienced the unmerited/unearned favor of God. There may be times that this world will pull you out of the will of God. However, it will be His goodness in times of trouble that will bring you back...and with a broken and contrite heart. If this sounds familiar to you, it's because Jesus taught us about the grace and goodness of God in the story of the prodigal son. When the son found himself wallowing in filth and eating with the swine, he came to his senses and desired to return to his father's house as a servant, not as a son. He no longer felt worthy to be his father's son. Nevertheless, the father lavished his love on the son when he saw him coming home.
After a child of God waivers and falls into sin, it will be the goodness of God that restores him to the place of grace from which he has fallen. We have a loving and compassionate heavenly Father, who is longsuffering. Let us honor the free gift of God and save ourselves from hardships and heartaches.
Saved by Grace,
Pastor Asa Dockery