Tuesday, May 7, 2013

God's Riches

          Have you ever found yourself thinking about grace? Asking yourself what it is, what does it look like? Most of us who are Christians understand Grace to be the undeserved, unearned favor of God upon our lives. As I pondered on the word Grace yesterday, I was reminded of something a pastor of mine once taught about Grace. He said that Grace was:
            Think about that for a moment. God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. This tells me that God is rich, and because of what Christ did for me, I too am rich. But sometimes, I don’t feel so rich, sometimes I feel poor and needy, unwise and helpless. Being a Christian doesn’t mean that we will always get it right, but it does mean that we have the riches of God at our disposal. What does this mean for us today? What is God rich in?
“But God, Who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us…” Ephesians 2:4
                God is rich in mercy; He is also rich in love. He is rich in longsuffering, He is rich in forgiveness, and the list goes on and on. Rich doesn’t mean wealthy in the monetary sense, but in an abundant and abounding supply of something. There is nothing that God is not rich in. He is rich in the eternal, and He is rich in the material. John 1:16 tells us that we have received of His fullness, and “grace for grace”. We have been given access to the riches of God, to live and to love as He showed us. But, we have not because we ask not. (James 4:2)
                If we have received of this same abundance of wealth that Christ gave His life for, then why do we not walk in it? I have recently talked with some women who have been hurt by the words and actions of other Christians. These women have felt judged and felt that they did not deserve the grace of God because of what these other “Christians” said about them and to them. But are we not to have grace towards one another. Paul said that we should “let our speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt…” (Col. 4:6) If we are to speak to one another with grace, then our speech would be with mercy, and love, and all the other riches that God is abundant in. But instead, we talk down to one another; we give the disapproving looks and the whispers behind the back. Oh, if we could only grasp the true meaning of grace in our lives, then perhaps these issues within our churches and our relationships would begin to heal and to grow.
                Christ Jesus came to this earth to give us a future and a hope. He suffered so dearly for us. He gave His all for us and to us, so that we might be partakers of the grace of God. We need more mercy in our hearts for one another. We have become a Church divided, and have turned away from the true meaning of grace in our lives. Paul tells us in Romans 10:12 that there is “no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.” There is no distinction in God’s eyes; there is no division in His grace to those who believe in Him. So why do we, as children and imitators of Christ divide His grace and only give mercy and forgiveness to those who we feel deserve it?

                There is none who deserves the riches of His grace, yet He bestows it upon us all freely. There is none who deserve His forgiveness, yet He gives abundant mercy to those who repent and call upon His name. There is nothing that God holds back from us, so why do we hold back from one another? We choose to judge one another, and not forgive those who have repented, even though God has forgiven and God has cleansed, and God has poured out His abundant grace upon them. We forget to love the sinner and hate the sin. Instead we hate the sin and the sinner, the same person who Christ so willingly and so joyfully died for.
                God is still the God of Grace, and He gives grace and mercy, love and forgiveness, truth and wisdom, and all His riches to those who call upon His name. He desires His children to walk in the fullness of His riches, the fullness of His grace, the fullness of His mercy. But instead we back bite one another, we pick and choose the ones we give grace to, and the ones who don’t deserve it. We are grieving the Holy Spirit of God when we take it upon ourselves to decide who is worthy to receive His grace and who is not. None of us are worthy, no not one. But God, who is rich in mercy, loved you so much that He died for you. He suffered, He was beaten, and He gave it all up so that you could inherit the riches of His glory, and He would do it all again.
                Grace is the undeserved and unearned favor of God, and Grace is the price Christ paid so that you could have forgiveness and mercy. We need to have mercy towards one another, not only in our deeds and actions, but in our words. God’s abundant and abounding mercy, love, forgiveness, compassion, long suffering, kindness, goodness, joy, faithfulness, (I could go on) is there for us to receive, and it is there for us to share. God did not give you grace to hide it, but to share it and to live it out before a dying and lost world. There is no distinction in the eyes of God between who deserves and who does not, for none deserves the riches of His grace, yet He bestows it upon all who seek Him and call upon His name.
                Love one another, not only in word but in deed also. Have mercy towards one another, for Christ died for them just as He died for you. Forgive one another, as Christ forgave you. Show compassion for those who are lost, because while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you. (Romans 5:8) Share the abundance of His riches with one another, encouraging one another in the bond of peace. Let us begin to live as Christ lived, sacrificially and with purpose, the purpose of showing the love of God and the riches of His mercy to a lost and broken world. You deserve not one penny of His riches, yet He gives it to you in great and mighty abundance.

                May the Lord Jesus multiply the riches of His grace and mercy upon our hearts today. May we begin to receive the fullness of His grace and begin to walk in the wealth of His abundant love for all mankind. To Jesus Christ be all the glory, now and forever, amen and amen.