what is your understanding of God’s grace?

By Pastor Matt Gerwitz

II Timothy 2:1-7

 1 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 And the things that you have heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit you to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

3 You therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

4 No man that wars entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.

5 And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully.

6 The husbandman that labors must be first partaker of the fruits.

7 Consider what I say; and the Lord give you understanding in all things.

 

Let’s start this week’s devotion with a question: what is your understanding of God’s grace?

Most of us define grace as “unmerited favor”, and well we should — that is its meaning. Yet often times we misunderstand grace to mean that, as Christians, God expects nothing more of us than a slight emotional attachment to him. This misunderstanding manifests itself in the false idea that grace is an excuse to continue doing what we please.

Sometimes we perceive this as being negative. For example, some Christians use grace as a license to go out and sin. Other times, grace is perceived as positive in as much as we use it as an excuse to not require excellence of ourselves. In either case, such use is of grace constitutes nothing more than spiritual abuse.

Note that in Paul’s comments to Timothy he tells his young protégé to be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” The grace Paul is talking about is indeed the unmerited favor of God. It is grace that not only saves, but grace that allows Timothy to access the same power Jesus had access to.

You see, the book of Philippians demonstrates that Jesus willingly surrendered himself to the restrictions of human flesh. Every miracle he did, every word of knowledge he received, every ounce of ability he had to withstand temptation was a direct result of the power of the Holy Spirit living in and through him. That’s why the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus at his baptism.

That same power is available to us if we seek to be filled with the Holy Ghost. That said, what does Paul tell Timothy to do with the grace he has received? How about the following:

  • teach faithful men who will teach others
  • endure hardness
  • strive for mastery
  • continue in labor

These don’t sound like the things of the modern gospel which teach us to “let go and let God”, do they? That’s because they’re not. Christianity is hard work if you’re doing it correctly. Just as Jesus went through this life enduring incredible self-denial, humiliation, and suffering, you and I have the same in store for us if we are truly following the Lord.

Grace doesn’t erase that. Instead, grace enables us to push through in faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

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