Column: Necessary grace

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“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith … it is the gift of God.” – Ephesians 2:8

The Bible convinces me God knew what He was doing when He created man, gave us freedom, gave us commandments, most importantly gave us Jesus Christ, and lovingly gave us grace.

God, evidently, is never surprised by how much help mankind needs.

I believe this “help” was a package deal from the very beginning; a package that in this season of Christmas gifts we are wise to consider as the most important, divine and Godly gifts, and really, the only gifts that truly matter.

We all have on our Christmas shopping lists items we know are a combination of wants and needs for those we love. The grandchild child wants a pricy electronic device, but really needs a practical pair of snow boots. We as grandparents – y’know, humans – are stuck as to how best to show our love.

God’s instructive secret is this: love itself is the best gift because love is eternal, and God gives it continually because of His grace.

Most of humanity just wants the electronic device and really doesn’t want to hear about grace, love, snow boots or Jesus Christ. When their feet are warm and dry in the harsh winter snow, they’ll think not about being loved but about their comfort because humanity’s sinful first cause is “me,” not God. In our prosperous nation we often define luxuries as necessities, and we always want more.

Can there possibly be a greater luxury – or need – than God’s grace in Jesus Christ? The common Sunday school definition of grace is “unmerited favor,” but I prefer “necessary help.” Grace has everything to do with humility and weakness (James 4:6, 2 Corinthians 12:9) and nothing to do with merit. It’s better not to contemplate what we do and don’t “merit” in the eyes of God.

Going all the way back, God created mankind in His own image and vowed to love us no matter what. “What” took a severe hit early when Satan convinced Adam and Eve of their own “image-of-God” glory – so “why not” eat from God’s tree of knowledge? Satan still revels in our guilt, in bruising God’s image, and in conflating God’s grace with our worldly appetites.

We err gravely when we evaluate God as a Santa Claus to be judged by his material largesse. Read First John. “God is love” doesn’t mean “Here’s a new X-Box.”

That God gave us freedom proves that our love for Him isn’t coerced. That God gives us His grace proves He knows what we need the very most.

Walters (rlwcom@aol.com) is going to spend December talking about true necessities.

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