Friday, January 6, 2012

Extravagant Grace

What is the first thing you think of when you hear the word, "grace"? The word evokes many thoughts in my heart. But the very first thought that grace brings to my mind is the God who created the world.

He is grace. The scriptures tell us who He is:

"The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy " Psalm 103:8 (KJV)

"And rend your heart and not your garments." Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in loving-kindness and relenting of evil." Joel 2:13 (NAS)

I consider myself to be gracious and compassionate in the way I think and act. It's evident in the way people freely confess their sins to me. I have had a number of women share their secrets with me about their struggles to remain faithful in their marriages. I've learned a great deal about grace through the confessions of these ladies.

Once a woman confessed to me that she was considering leaving her family for another man. I remember weeping as I prayed and asked the Lord, "What should I say to this woman?" I knew it was very critical to speak the truth in love. In these types of situations it is so important to display the heart of God to those who don't truly know Him. Many times we can blurt out the first thing that pops into our heads such as, Oh my goodness, are you crazy? But I sought the Lord for the words to say to the one tempted to leave her family, and He gave me the perfect words filled with His grace.

Many are confused about grace. Grace is not an excuse for being disobedient—it is a reason to be completely obedient to God. His abounding grace should be what causes us to want to obey Him perfectly.

A child is much more apt to listen to a loving, gracious parent, than to one who screams at them in anger and rage. A child wants to please the loving parent. It's the same way with the Lord. I obey His commands because I know how very much He loves me and I don't want to do anything to disturb the closeness I have with Him. In God's word, He shows us that our sin separates us from Him.

"But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." Isaiah 59:2 (NASB)

I don't want to be away from Him for even one minute, let alone one hour or a week or a month. He has become everything to me. It's His amazing grace that draws me to Himself.
I would rather have my head served on a platter than do anything that would spoil my fellowship with Jesus.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for me and for all believers to walk in unity with the Lord. My desire is for myself and others to be one with Him and share His grace with all those we come in contact with.

The day I talked with the woman about her temptation to leave her family, my words penetrated her heart. She heard through my voice how deeply God loved her, and that He didn't want her to mess up her life. There would be consequences for her wrong choices.

I exhaled a breath that felt big enough to knock over a large building when she told me she had chosen to stay in her marriage and make things work with her husband. Many years later, they are happily married. I believe it was the grace of God displayed through my life that helped her make the right choice.

God’s love is abounding. Until the 2nd coming of Christ may we—His followers—continually display His extravagant grace.

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