Dad taught me how to work hard and it always pleased him when I did. I learned to relate to him in that way. But God doesn’t operate on the basis of our learned work ethic. God operates on the basis of Grace. There have been many attempts to define Grace. I’m not certain any of them fully captures what it’s all about. Grace is like a multi-faceted jewel. It’s cut to catch and disperse light in many different directions. As we turn it, we see it’s grandeur from different angles. In general Grace is God’s love channeled to us wherever we are, and whenever we need it. Some have called Grace “God’s love in action.” Others have said it’s “God giving me what I need, not what I deserve.” Someone else said that Grace is the face that God wears when he looks at my failures. All of them are good. As we turn the gem of God’s Grace we see very many different aspects of it.

We often get Grace and Mercy confused because they are mentioned together in several Bible passages and we tend to take them as synonymous. But there is a difference between them. Most of you already know that mercy is when God doesn’t give us what we deserve, i.e., punishment. But Grace is when God gives us something wonderful that we don’t deserve. Yet, when you realize that what we deserve is Hell, but God gives us Heaven, then we might begin to get a grip on the depth of God’s love and begin to understand Grace. It’s not just not being punished, it’s receiving the grand prize!

You know this. I know this! Right? What’s the point! We already know this! I must ask myself then, why is it then that I more often live in the dark shadows of the work ethic instead of the shining light of God’s grace? Why do I still find my motivation in thinking that it’s what I do that pleases or displeases God? We know that we are saved entirely by Grace, yet we still insist on operating under the assumption we can earn more of God’s acceptance by trying to become perfect. If I could just be a better person I’d feel better about myself and so would God. The truth is God could not feel better about you and me than He does right now! The truth is most of us spend much of our lives thinking that Grace is something that we must earn. We don’t think it, but live as if God is some unpleasable parent frowning at our failures and smiling at our successes. We are saved by Grace, but we often live as if we’re saved by works and our relationship with God is dependent on our works. I’m convinced that this is the greatest hindrance to healthy relationship with God. He wants to love us unconditionally. But instead of simply accepting God’s love, we want to show him how good we can be! I think that might break his heart.

“The Lord longs to be gracious to you.” Isa. 30:18