We’ve all known a friend that uses the phrase, “Well, God will forgive me” right after they do something they know they shouldn’t have done. While the phrase is correct, this attitude can begin to create a “cheap grace” that doesn’t value the gift that was given to each of us. Grace is not meant to be a free pass to do what we want time and time again because we know the offer of grace is simply on the table. Grace should abound in all areas of our lives, and grace is more than a singular activity that begins and ends in a moment. It extends far greater and deeper in the lives of Christ followers to actively give and receive that grace that has been freely given to us.
Grace is not a new concept for Christians today, but it must be something that we put into action daily. We have to avoid it becoming a meaningless routine in our lives, and we must begin to live a life full of “daily grace”. How do we effectively carry out Colossians 4:6 when it says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
The need to give and receive grace was exemplified when I married my wife Elaine five years ago, and the need for it still continues today. Perhaps I am only speaking to my situation, but it quickly became obvious and it took me off guard how much my selfishness was brought to light in our relationship. In marriage, life is not about just me, but now I must consider another individual I care deeply about. Three years later we had our son and the need for grace hit me all over again, times two! Since then this refinement process has shown me not only how selfish I am but also how I am in need of grace on a daily basis and how I must show grace constantly. My shortcomings are now not hidden behind the scenes but laid out before my wife and son to see. Marriage is one of the most beautiful pictures of life and love but also one of the messiest. This applies to my marriage, friendships, job and every other aspect of life. Due to our constant interaction and shortcomings,
I am beginning to grasp the need of daily grace, not just to receive it, but to give it.
Daily grace does not downplay the immeasurable price that was paid on the cross that day on Calvary. It glorifies it by acknowledging that we have fallen short of the glory of God and because of His sacrifice and the grace that was shown to us, we too should be “full of grace.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer speaks to the danger of downplaying grace and says, “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” This definition Bonhoeffer presents hurts to hear because it is a reality that many of us either live in or encountered at certain points of our life. We have taken advantage of grace and used it for our own benefit, which is the exact opposite of how it was given to us.
What stands in the way of me giving or receiving grace is pride.
I have tried time and time again to diagnose and figure out what holds me back from extending a gift that is not even my own, and each time I come face to face with my own insecurities and selfishness. I don’t give grace because I want to be justified, just as I don’t receive grace because I feel I am not worthy to receive or deserve it. Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Receiving graces directs people to the cross because it acknowledges that we are in need of a Savior, and when we give grace it puts others interests above ours, which reflects the heartbeat of Christ. Matthew 20:28 says, “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Each of us has been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). Without this foundational realization, it becomes impossible to give and receive grace because our perspective of our self is not positioned in alignment with how Christ views us. Grace is not meant for singular moments of deep repentance or when caught in the middle of a problem. It is meant for daily conversation, interactions and encounters. It is a critical part of our faith and our witness to those around us.
Grace is backwards from the way the world operates and when it overflows from us, it is a direct reflection of our Savior.
Grace is a serious subject matter in the life of a Christ follower. It should not be taken lightly but should be something that we value and embrace. Both the giving and receiving of grace takes humility and courage, but to live a life most fulfilled it has to become a daily routine in all areas of our life.
“Be always full of grace.”