Thoughts on Grace

by Tom Andrasi on September 23, 2013

in Christianity 101, Faith in Action, grace

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When we think about grace, our thoughts naturally drift towards Jesus and what he has accomplished  on our behalf as well as how it relates to our standing before God. The very center and core of the whole Bible is the doctrine of the grace of God – the grace that does not depend on anything we may or may not do, but that which is undeserved, relentless, and originating with God.

Michael Horton says it well: “Grace – God’s riches at Christ’s expense.” In fact, grace is the exact opposite of what we deserve.

The message of the gospel simply put is that God wants us to return to him and has made the way. He offers to us forgiveness which is not based on our own action or inaction, but rather on his own initiative in paying for the consequence of sin by way of Jesus Christ.

Our focus regarding grace tends to be made up of the following aspects:

  • we tend to view grace from the perspective of what God has done for us and how it relates to our standing before him
  • we look at it as God’s grace towards us
  • we focus on what this grace has affected for us
  • our perception is that the direction of grace is only vertical; God –> us

All this is good and right. The vertical aspect of grace is very important and foundational to our faith, but I am starting to think that maybe we have neglected the logical horizontal dimension of a true understanding of God’s grace. The evidence of what we truly believe about the gospel of God’s grace is shown by our response to others as they sin and/or fall short of expectations.

The horizontal component is made up of the following as a minimum:

  • grace extended to our spouse
  • grace extended to our children
  • grace extended to strangers
  • grace extended to fellow Christians
  • grace extended to other sinners both within and outside the church

You see, grace isn’t easy. It challenges the core of our character and uncovers what we truly believe about God, ourselves, and about others. In fact, one of the greatest tests of our character and what we believe is how we respond when someone else errs or disappoints us.

Nothing so clearly discovers a spiritual man as his treatment of an erring brother.” Augustine

Everything in the New Testament points to forgiveness, grace, and reconciliation. God forgives and reconciles us to himself, and in so doing, does not give us the luxury of deciding who we can extend forgiveness to – none of us are worthy of the forgiveness which has been extended to us, and so we must freely extend this grace to others.

Forgiveness should not be an isolated occurrence, but rather it should be a lifestyle – a way of habitually responding to others in our lives. As has been said, our worst days are never so bad that we are beyond the reach of God’s grace. If this is true, that grace and forgiveness are available to us when we slip up, our lives in turn should be so transformed as to show this same grace to others when they falter.

I don’t know about you, but personally, accepting God’s grace and forgiveness when I have messed up comes pretty easily – extending that same forgiveness and grace to others – not so.

How about you, what are your thoughts on grace?

 

Photo Used under Creative Commons License.

© 2013-2015, Tom Andrasi
  • Bob Grier

    We should call someone “Graceful” not just when one moves well, physically but also when they “distribute” grace horizontally, as you said. I remember well those I consider “graceful” throughout my Christian life. They really stood out as being “Christ-like” and seemed able to do this so easily and naturally. They were generous, kind, understanding, listeners, wise !
    I strife to be this way but often fall short, but life is for learning !
    Every Blessing, all.

    • TomAndrasi

      Bob;
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you wholeheartedly that we could all aspire to allow more of God’s grace to flow through us to all we come in contact with and thereby becoming more “graceful”.
      God bless …
      Tom

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