Grace is one of my favorite topics to talk about. I covered quite a bit of it in a previous blog, “Cocoon of Grace,” but I feel it is worth repeating. Once you get the concept of Grace, you will understand what Jesus meant in Matthew 11: 28-30 when He said, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Receiving the revelation of grace is the best thing that ever happened in my Christian walk. Before that time, every day was an effort to measure up and I never could. I always had a picture of God the Father ready to squash me like a bug whenever I did anything wrong or some kind of punishment was always on its way. On the other hand if I was having a extremely good day, I thought I earned the Father’s love. The latter was very rare. Almost every day, I felt like I disappointed the Lord. Joyce Meyer calls this “stinking thinking.” It is a heartbreaking the way some Christians live their lives and I was one of them but not any longer. Thankfully, I had great teaching on God’s grace. I learned that when Jesus died on the cross for us, He died that we would spend eternity with Him in heaven, but He died for so much more. Jesus paid such a heavy price for us. He died a horrific death and He died in agony, all because He loves us with a love that is unconditional. Because of the sin of Adam and Eve the intimate relationship they had with God was broken. Men could no longer go to God directly. They had to go through a priest and every year they brought an animal to be sacrificed that was used for atonement for their sins. Jesus made us right with God again when He became the living sacrifice. All our sins were forgiven, past, present and future. In other words because of what Jesus did for us on the cross, we are righteous. With all the mistakes we make when God looks at us, He sees us as perfect. Furthermore, we do not need anyone to go the Father for us. Jesus destroyed that rift and we are no longer separated from the Father. His love is unconditional, it is not based on performance. There is NOTHING we can do to earn grace. It is a free gift, I can’t say it enough. God loves us. He always has and he always will. This does not mean that we can act ungodly or do anything we want. Clearly, God’s given grace and His love does not mean there are not consequences to our transgressions. You cannot rob a bank and think “it is ok, God loves me.” You would be right in thinking God still loves you but you would be wrong to think it is ok. Once caught, you will pay the consequences and most likely spend time in jail. The example may be farfetched but I assume it drives the point home. When we realize the grace of God and how much He loves us, we come to the place where we love the Father also and want to please Him. The Word tell us, We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first. 1 John 4:19 (The Message)
My favorite example of the Father’s love is in the story of the prodigal son.
Luke 15: 11-32 (The Message)
“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’ “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any. “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand. He got right up and went home to his father. “When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’ “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time. “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’ “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!”
This is grace at its best. This son betrayed his father and broke his heart. As you can see the son came to his senses, decided to come back home and accept the penalty for his actions. When the father saw his son at a distance what does the story tell us? It tells us he ran to his son, hugged and kissed him. All the wrongdoing the son carried out was forgiven and forgotten. This is a picture of our heavenly Father, He forgives and He forgets. You may be thinking, “great story but that is not fair to the older son.” Yes it is. All the older son had to do was tell his father what he wanted as he was told, “everything that is mine is yours.” I believe there is another lesson in this. When we see a prodigal come home, don’t get upset when the Father blesses him as it is a time to rejoice, seeing that, he is no longer lost but found.
A couple of years ago, I had a vision about the Lord’s love. It was a black and white sketch. Jesus was hugging someone tightly. I’m not sure if it was me or not as I was intensely focused on Jesus’ face. His face was grimaced and His arms were firmly wrapped around the person and I knew by the look on His face and the way He was hugging them, that He did not want to let them go. The love on the face of Jesus was amazing. In reality, “amazing” does not even come close to the love I saw on the face of our Savior. He loves each and every one of us like this. That love like His grace is unconditional. I will say it again, no matter what you do, you cannot earn it. It is a free gift.
In conclusion, know that you are loved, know that your sins are forgiven, know that you have access to the Father at any given time because of what Jesus did on the cross for you and me.
If you want to learn more about grace and the love of God I would highly recommend the following books.
- Unmerited Favor by Joseph Price
- You’ve Already Got It! (So Quit Trying To Get It) by Andrew Wommack