The morning stroll with dog friend Hannah was delightful. The sun was shining and the air was brisk. Hannah found hundreds of p-mail messages to sniff in her version of the world wide web. On the iPod I dialed up the series I am currently devouring on the book of Romans. The series is called the TrueFaced Grace Series and it is by the same knuckleheads that have been rocking my world with the book TrueFaced. I wrote about the book in a recent post called the Santa Clause is Comin’ to Town Theology. Today’s passage was from Romans 5. I am placing my marginal reputation on the recommendation that you check out this book and/or CD series.
What hit me on the stroll today was how I seem to ration grace in my life as if it is in short supply. I picture myself like those old movies where the guys are stuck in the desert with one canteen of water left.
They only allow a sip of water to be consumed. Just enough to survive. I think I have viewed grace like that at times. Since I don’t really deserve this gift I must take just a little. The truth is just the opposite. I didn’t deserve grace but God chose to give the gift. Why would God give me a gift and then expect me not to use it freely?
One of my favorite shows is The Office. A recent episode featured bumbling boss Michael deciding that websites and technology were not the way to maintain clients. So Michael decided to win back lost clients with good old-fashioned gift baskets. Along with overbearing compatriate Dwight, they set out to give the baskets to former clients to lure their business back with an unexpected gift. The baskets were delivered but not a single client was convinced to return because of the gift. Michael and Dwight began to get angry because these ungrateful clients did not appreciate the “gift” and resume business with them. So they went to take back their gift because the performance of the recipients was not good enough to merit keeping the gift. Michael even got angry because part of his “gift” had been consumed.
Sadly, that is how I have viewed God’s grace. I received the gift of grace but I still expected that it might be pulled back if I didn’t measure up. I was like the old rock song lyrics…I fought the law and the law won. But I did not understand God’s purpose for the law. The law was put in place to make me realize that I desperately need the gift basket of grace. And God’s Word is clear that I get to keep it. Paul said words to that effect in Romans.
God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 5, NLT)
Here is one more amazing thing about amazing grace. When I sin God not only doesn’t take back the gift basket, instead against all common sense the gift basket gets larger and more extravagant! The King James Version (Good News for 17th Century Man) has a great translation.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound
God doesn’t pull back His grace when His children sin. He pours grace out in a volume sufficient to overwhelm that sin in a tsunami of love. I sit there spiritually parched and hoping to find a drop or two left in the canteen. All the while God is pointing to a fire hydrant that is gushing so much grace that it will knock me over. That is what Paul is saying. Well, he didn’t have The Office or fire hyrdants to reference but he did the best he could. I have known this truth from Romans for a long time. Now I am learning to trust that truth. What an amazing difference that makes when it comes to amazing grace.