Grace is often contrasted with mercy. Mercy is when we avoid something bad that we do deserve, like punishment for a crime. Grace, on the other hand, is when we get something good that we don’t deserve, like fellowship with God, blessings, family, and relationships. Receiving grace is important because life is not easy. Grace from God can lighten our burdens, enhance our quality of life, and enable us to be a bigger blessing to others.
There is an interesting fact about grace that often gets overlooked. Grace is not unconditional. While grace is available to everyone, and some of it we may receive as human beings and believers without doing anything else, there are greater stores of grace that become available depending on our level of obedience to God.
For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.Matthew 4:45
Jesus, for example, talked about a special grace of resources to those who give (Luke 6:37), forgiveness to those who forgive others (Luke 6:38), rewards for prayer (Matthew 6:6), rewards for fasting (Matthew 6:18), rewards for honoring parents (Ephesians 6:2), rewards for following Christ (Mark 10:29-30), and so on and so forth.
I once had a mentor who always used to say “In the Christian life, two things are free: salvation, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Everything else requires work on our part.”
Without God’s grace, all our efforts would accomplish nothing. They wouldn’t earn us salvation, nor would they earn us blessings in this life and in the hereafter. With this understanding, it makes sense to speak about every good thing God gives us in terms of grace, and.
And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.Galatians 6:9
There is the positive good that we do, and then there is the evil that we avoid. Just as God rewards obedience with blessings, a lack thereof leads to their forfeiture. The prophet Jonah, in all his rebellion, understood this truth.
Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.Jonah 2:8
An idol is anything that we elevate above worship to God. If God said “don’t do x”,” and we do x, then x has become an idol in our lives. It is a beautiful thing that God stills loves us when we mess up, but we may miss out on many blessings.
This is the premise of a book I read several years ago, Killing Kryptonite: Destroy What Steals Your Strength, by John Bevere. The thesis of the book is that there are many blessings available to us as believers that we miss out on when we open the door to evil in our hearts. For Bevere, pornography was a huge blessing killer in his life before he got free. If this subject fancies your interest, I highly recommend you grab that book from the library or Amazon.
I don’t know about you, but I need as much grace as I can get. Today let’s resolve to avoid evil and do good so we can access all the resources God has made available for us.