I often hear people say, “We need grace, but we don’t want to take advantage of it. We don’t want to take it for granted…” Or they’ll say, “Yes there’s grace, but we also need….” Fill in the blank. It’s as if grace is seen as something that needs to be limited or counterbalanced in order for people to be motivated properly to walk in integrity. As if it can potentially be bad for our spiritual health and our growth if we overdose on God’s goodness.
I say, if we are afraid of having “too much” grace it is probably because we don’t understand the essence, value or function of grace very well. Grace does not necessarily always produce the kind of behavioral modification we are looking for, sure. It’s not utilitarian, pragmatic, or formulaic. It does, however, transform the human heart like nothing else…
By its very nature grace — the unmerited favor God gives us — is something excessive. Exceedingly excessive! It’s over-the-top and extravagant. It’s radical, it’s generous, it’s more than we can handle. It always feels like “too much,” always feels too good to be true. Otherwise, it’s not the kind of hardcore grace that Jesus embodied at the Cross and extends to us day after day.
The irrational, unsensible, counterintuitive lavishness of grace is what makes it move us so deeply. It’s what stuns us and makes our whole lives turn into a response of humble gratitude. It’s what moves us to sing endless songs at the top of our lungs about the beauty and worth of our outstanding Lord.
Grace is not “balanced.” It’s unbound and untamable. And yes, it’s unsafe to those of us who are still too used to having our behavior controlled from external, manipulative motivators. Grace gives us complete, endless freedom. Such freedom only works for our wellbeing as we learn to handle it responsibly with self-control.
What happens to those of us who DO abuse God’s grace though? At the moment when we fail the WORST, and by all normal standards find ourselves disqualified for mercy, forgiveness and loving kindness… that’s precisely when grace works its magic best. God hands us His cup again and says, “Drink to your fill — and then some more. Delight yourself in abundance!”
Grace is not just for those who learn to use it rightly, those who figure it out and finally get set on the right trajectory. Grace comes alongside those who fail over and over and over, and says “Okay beloved, own your failure. Know too that even and especially now, YOU are not a failure. You are a powerful, righteous child of God. You are radiant, set apart in Christ, overflowing with the glory of Love. These choices have been immature and foolish, not reflective of your truest character. Nevertheless, by the power of the Cross you remain made complete and holy. I believe in you, and I’m here to be your strength when you are weak. Now let’s get real, clean up this mess and build a better future together.”
Does God want us to get stuck in apathy, dysfunction, or broken ways of living? Of course not. In His kindness, He’ll firmly correct and challenge us wherever we are entrenched in these cycles. Nevertheless His ultimate goal in His relationship with us isn’t actually just to make us act more ethically. Even in addressing our misbehavior, He consistently reveals His gracious personality to us because His priority is to sweep us off our feet with the revelation of the Gospel that we’ve yet to actually trust sufficiently. He wants to win our hearts, over and over, more and more. It’s always His agenda to build us up by loving us wildly. When we understand that better we too tend to become more harmonious in our relationships with Him, ourselves and others around us. We become visibly conformed to the image of Love Himself.
The Lord’s enduring graciousness is what makes Him altogether “holy,” set apart or distinct from any other leader. His ways are higher than ours, His thoughts so far above our own preconceived notions of Him. In every instance. He is a really good God!
Make it your life’s aim to ever receive more deeply from the endless well of grace that is accessible to us in Christ’s Jesus. He longs to reveal it to you all throughout your journey. It’s always a part of your next step forward and it’s always in your best interest. If we haven’t had “too much grace yet,” then it’s possible we haven’t even begun to have enough.