BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS: SUFFICIENT GRACE

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (a thorn in his flesh) away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ ” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

The apostle Paul suffered some serious ailment which seemingly would not go away in spite of persistent prayer. God humbled him with these words ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ He prayed for relief but God waved his concerns away as it was not a handicap to effectively carrying out his mission. It must have bothered the apostle a great deal but God wanted to allay his fears because He already had it covered.

God has a number of things covered for us by His grace. It could be likened to a giant parasol to protect us from the scorching heat---at no cost. We are undeserving of such attention, but God makes it available nevertheless. “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:45)

God’s grace can be traced back to the book of Genesis when Adam and Eve, after they had been driven from the Garden of Eden dressed in leaves, were provided with more permanent clothing after God used the skin of a slaughtered ram. Likewise, the Children of Israel, prior to entering the Promised Land, were assured that their possession of the land would be beneficial. They would be entering “.... a land with large flourishing cities you did not build, houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant...” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11)

If humanity had to merit God’s grace through any effort of its own, it would not be grace; because Grace is the expression of God’s unconditional love---with no strings attached. It is poured out of God’s goodness. During the Children of Israel’s journey through the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, we learn that “Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.” (Deuteronomy 8:4)  God’s saving grace at work!

The story is told of a prisoner of war who escaped during the Cambodian war and was heading for the mountainous region-- littered with groves---for cover. As the soldiers on his trail drew closer he panicked and offered a prayer to God for his safety. He was expecting that God would probably raise a brick wall to seal the entrance to the grove where he was hiding. Then suddenly he saw a giant spider that started spinning its web and in a light-hearted remark he frowned on the spider’s presence. In a few minutes though, the spider had spun its web to cover the space to the entrance.

He could hear the soldiers at his heels fast approaching his hiding place; but when they reached this particular grove one of them after seeing the spider’s web all over the entrance dismissed any human presence there. The spider’s web was an indication that no one had entered that grove for a very long time. That saved his life and he was able to escape to safety. Did he merit or deserve it?  No, it’s just that God’s grace was sufficient for him. 

God’s ways are not our ways, neither are His thoughts our thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8) That He has chosen the nation of Israel over all other nations as his ‘treasured possession’ is sheer grace. “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 7: 6b)

More grace?

How do we respond to grace? Will knowing that God would not treat us as our sins deserve or that He has made ample provision for His grace push us to commit more sin? In sum, would God’s grace   increase our appetite for sin so that we may benefit from more grace? No, it should not be that way! 

Yet because of God’s blanket grace, some argue that they can continue sinning for grace to abound. “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:1-2) Grace was not given as a license to sin but to free us from its grip so we can savour newly-found freedom in righteousness that only following Jesus Christ brings.

The apostle Paul admonished “...not to receive God’s grace in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1) We must seek therefore to grow in His grace because grace opens our eyes to God’s goodness towards humanity. Our response to grace will not change the nature of God. He longs to be gracious unto each and every one of His creation.

We are living in an era of Grace. God is offering us time to be right with Him because after death there is no grace but judgment. (Hebrews 9:27) Let us be wise, listen to God’s word and run for our salvation whilst we have life! 

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye