I don’t mean I’m incapable unless God helps me. I mean, giving grace is a prerogative of God alone. I have no part in it.
It’s popular now to talk about how we need to give grace to others, but the way people are using the word—meaning forgiveness and kindness and love—diminishes the meaning of the remarkable word “grace” until it loses the vital meaning it should have.
In all the New Testament, nobody gives grace but God. Nobody shows grace but God. It’s from God alone.
I’ve heard various definitions for the word grace through the years, but a lot of them seem to me to fall short. My favorite is a little one that captures it all: “the divine inflow-outflow of God.” I love it. I even like that it’s redundant. It starts with “divine” and it ends with “of God.” There is no ambiguity about the fact that this is something only He has the privilege of doing.
Read the New Testament with all its crucial references to grace, and substitute that meaning. Look at this one: “You are not under Law, but under Grace” (Romans 6:14-15). Oh, do you get that meaning? You, as a truster of Christ Jesus, with the power of the Holy Spirit within, are no longer under that blinding light that to your horror is showing you every microscopic bit of dirt on your person. Instead, you’re under a waterfall. You stand with your mouth open receiving the life-giving inflow of God. And, as Jesus promised in John 7, it then flows out of your innermost being. It flows to others who desperately need that Living Water. When they taste of it, then they themselves want to stand under the waterfall, drinking in the divine inflow, through the power of the Holy Spirit flowing it out.
How is the grace accessed? Is it by simply knowing that it’s there? Is it by asking forgiveness (the “freedom-and-sin-and-forgiveness” cycle)? This grace, this empowering, transforming, life-giving grace is accessed through faith and only through faith, not by any works that we can do. “You are saved [present tense] by grace through faith,” Ephesians 2 tells us. By a constant gaze-shifting to focus on Jesus Christ alone as all our Hope, and our only Hope.
Is it “mystical”? Maybe. Is it spiritual? Definitely. Is it “common-sense Christianity,” as some Christian leaders have talked about? Actually, I think it’s counterintuitive to “common-sense Christianity,” which ends up looking like other works-based religions. What are you doing standing under that waterfall? Get out here and start hacking at this stone-hard ground.
Of course the stone-hard ground needs to be softened. But God has said that He is doing this work. If we, through faith in Jesus Christ alone, receive the waterfall from the Waterfall Rock of our Savior, it will flow out. Great things will happen. As someone has said “God can do more in five minutes that we can do in five years.”
Through faith, drink long and deep of the absolutely amazing grace of Jesus Christ. Watch what it does in your life. Get ready for some dams to burst.
Because He’s the One giving the grace.