Saturday, September 02, 2017

Grace and Graciousness

God in His grace has reached out and blessed us in ordinary and extraordinary ways. He did so, not because we deserved such grace, because He desired and chose to do so. This grace is more variegated than the flowers that the ladies will see this coming week on their outing to the dahlia farm. It is a prism of goodness that fills our lives. Every sweet experience, whether pleasing any of our senses or activating our minds our affecting our emotions - all these things are only possible because of the many-colored grace of God.

Of course, God’s grace as applied in redemption is even greater. God blesses His children with a changed past, forgiving their sin. He gives them a new identity, breaking their bondage to Satan and binding them in covenant relationship with Himself. He seals our future with promises and with the heavenly Spirit who now dwells in our hearts, leading and provoking and protecting. We are never alone; we always have Someone who prays for us; and we are invited to call the Ruler of the universe “our Father.”

Such grace is, as John Newton wrote, amazing. It is also infecting. With the gracious Spirit’s help, this grace penetrates deep down into our psyche, so that what rises up and out of us is - gracious. Grace-filled Christians (and there are no other kinds) are gracious. And yet, the world’s experience of professing Christians is often much different. What has gone wrong?

Well, for one, we have. As Martin Luther said, we are at the same time saints, and sinners. I have a t-shirt with that quote on the front. One of our ladies saw me wearing it, and said that the “sinner” was more obvious than the “saint.” I think she was talking about the font and the color. But then, I’m not so sure. Maybe she, or God, was telling me that His infecting grace has not yet penetrated near so deep as it needs, so that my most unguarded responses when stressed or frustrated are not the same as those responses when worshipping alone with Bible open or together with others in song - gracious. Because grace and graciousness must go together.

If you have indeed tasted that the Lord is good, how is the flow of graciousness? Where are the inconsistencies? Are there certain people or places in which the graciousness disappears, and the old man comes out. We know, don’t we, that God’s grace never disappears. Nor should our graciousness. We can be truthful, but gracious. We can disagree, but with grace. The gladness of God’s grace must never give way to the madness of our own malice.

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