Alright, I admit it: I am not the most grace-filled person on earth. I have struggled with this for so many years that it has caused me to question my beliefs over and over again. What is grace? How much should we have toward people? How much does God have toward us? Is His grace based on how we act? What we do? What we say? What we think?
I have concluded that Grace + anything else is no longer grace. Grace is unmerited favor. Remember when Jesus was approached by Peter asking “How many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Jesus’ response: 449 times. Really? Jesus was poetically telling us that we are to never stop forgiving our brothers when they sin against us. That is grace. Jesus never stops forgiving us. Grace.
God’s grace for us doesn’t have a limit. I grew up thinking that eventually God’s grace gives out and we have to start acting right. But the closer I get to Jesus the more I understand His heart. He knows we are miserable wretches, that’s why He died for us. He isn’t expecting anything to change. You will never be righteous of your own nature. Think about this… no matter how much you read your Bible, or go to church, or attend a small group; you will never be more righteous than you are right now. Never.
I was forced to ask the question, “what about Luke 14:26?”
“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters–yes, even his own life–he cannot be my disciple.
or how about Matthew 10:17-27, the story of the rich young ruler?
Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him and said to him, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”
This sounded to me like grace had conditions: first you have to hate everyone in comparison to the way you feel about Jesus, then you must make sure there are no other things above him… no idols, no gods. Grace has conditions! No, it doesn’t. The Bible tells us that we are saved by grace through faith.
Faith is the hinge. The conditions to receive grace from God are all based on your faith. When we have faith in Christ we are fully surrendered to Him. We are told to believe on Christ. This isn’t like believing in Santa Claus, or believing that God exists… the devil believes God exists… he knows God exists. It isn’t enough to simply believe. When we are told to believe in Christ the greek word used is pisteuo(pist-yoo’o) and it means to have faith, to trust in.
We are to place all of our Trust in Jesus. This means that no trust is left over for anyone else. When we allow our trust to be in governments or jobs or churches or people that means that not ALL of our trust is in Jesus. Grace is free. Absolutely free. Faith in Christ is paramount.