The bible says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Eph 2:8-9).
One of the more difficult biblical concepts to understand is grace. Initially it seems easy enough, but when it needs to be put into practice, the difficulty becomes apparent. The only way we can understand grace is to see how God applies it to our lives. When we begin to understand that, then we can begin to exercise it towards others.
The difficulty comes when we learn that grace is never given because we deserve it. We received grace from God despite who we are. The verse reads, “And this is not your own doing.” God’s love to me was not earned nor deserved. It was simply and freely given.
Initially we want to balk at that concept. “Surely,” we think, “There is something about me that sets me a part.” But God simply replies with, “No.” God will not allow us to boast. God’s love is centered not on us, but on Christ. To properly understand grace we need to learn that its center of gravity is Jesus. Grace flows out of the abundance of love that the Father has for the Son.
The first step, then, in properly understanding grace is to accept that “I” do not deserve it, but it is given only because Jesus is the center of God’s affections. In other words, grace is Christ-centered. The Father’s love does not flow directly to me, but through Christ to me. If Christ is absent in that equation then the love of the Father cannot be received.
Faith is the catalyst that allows me to receive God’s love. When I have faith I am trusting that Jesus made things right between me and the Father. He did this for me on the cross. By dying for my sins and rising from the dead on the third day He removed my sins which barred the door to God’s presence. My sins were removed and forgiven only because Jesus took care of them for me, outside of any effort on my part.
Therefore, the Father’s love for me was made available at the expense of another. When I agree with that, then, and only then, can I receive. This puts us in the rather awkward position of having to take something without earning it. But if we are to receive, we must be in that position. We must raise empty hands and ask God to fill them, pleading the blood of Jesus on our behalf.
When seen in that light, faith is not only trusting that Jesus made things right, but it also includes the confession of His work on our behalf. In other words, true faith does boast, but only in the person and work of Jesus.
This is what separates the wheat from the chaff. Those who are truly saved will gladly boast of Jesus and all that He has done. They not only trust in Him, but they boast of Him. This is the key to being able to exercise grace to others.
It begins with the understanding that we have nothing to give. It becomes available to give when we recognize the source is Jesus. We become able to give when Jesus is the center of our affections, even as He is the center of the Father’s. We become affective in giving only when we boast of Him.
Here, then, is the posture we must find ourselves if we are ever to learn to give grace to others. Only when we are seen as beggars on our knees freely receiving, can others receive from us. Grace flows directly from Jesus. Only when Jesus can be seen filling us, can others receive His grace through us.