Exodus 34:6: And Yahweh passed over before him, and he proclaimed, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God, who is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding with loyal love and faithfulness.”
Psalm 130:1-4: Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my pleas for grace! If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.
John 1:14: And the Word became flesh and took up residence among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.
2 Corinthians 8:9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
1 Peter 4:10: Just as each one has received a gift, use it for serving one another, as good stewards of the varied grace of God.
Grace – it is one of the most beautiful and powerful words in the whole Bible. Most Christians define it as getting something one does not deserve. This is true, but it is easy to see this as something one receives and miss the giver. After all, grace can be defined as a gift of favor or delight from the one who gives it. In the story of the Bible, there is no one more gracious than God, who gives generous gifts of favor and delight to sinful and wicked humans.
You see it in the beginning. God generously gives all the fruit trees of the garden to Adam and Eve for them to enjoy. He only withholds one, asking them to trust in his goodness and wisdom. If they eat off that tree, he said, they will certainly die. They choose the fruit from this forbidden tree and showed their unbelief in him. But when God confronts them with their sin, they don’t die. They receive a promise instead that someone from Eve’s line would one day crush the serpent who deceived her. This is not to say they got away with sin. God exiled them from the garden, and they did eventually die. But God gave them a generous gift of a promise that their sin and death would not be the end of the story.
As the video showed, God made a covenant with the people of Israel that they might be his kingdom of priests and blessing to the nations. But they quickly rebelled against him in worship of the golden calf. God would have been right to abandon them or destroy them, but instead he offered a gracious gift – his promise to be with his people, even in the wilderness when they grumbled against him.
The golden calf story foreshadows where the rest of the story of Israel goes. God kept offering his people grace, and they kept rebelling against him. Though he gave them a land overflowing with milk and honey and abundance, though he set them up as an incredible kingdom, they continued in breaking their covenant with him and pursuing the gods of the other nations. Eventually, their sins led them into destruction and exile, but even then, God gave them promises through the prophets that their story wasn’t over. One day, he would send a servant who would show them his gracious, generous spirit in such a way that would transform their hearts.
It is when we turn to the New Testament that we find the ultimate gracious gift of God to sinners – Jesus Christ. The apostle John said he was full of God’s grace. The sick, the sinners, and the outcasts found him to be gracious to them, as he spent time with them, healed them, and taught them about God’s kingdom. The apostle Paul said that though Jesus was rich, he became poor, so that through his poverty we might become rich. He called this “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” As Jesus laid down his life for sinners like us on the cross, he poured out the riches of God’s generous grace upon us. We couldn’t earn this if we tried. It is God’s gift of favor and delight to us through faith in Christ. This season of Lent calls us to reflect on how undeserving we are of anything but judgment from the Lord. Yet in Christ, we have received “marvelous, infinite, matchless grace” as the hymn goes.
Our God is filled with grace. Jesus is filled with grace. And as we call ourselves his followers and disciples, we too must have our character shaped by his character. We must be filled with grace. The apostle Peter wrote that just as we each have received a gift from Christ, we must use that gift to serve others, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. The Greek words for gift and grace here share the same root – kharis. We have received generous grace; we must also serve others with generous grace. As we look around our church, our brothers and sisters, let us ask ourselves – who needs a generous gift of grace from us? Who needs to see that they find favor and delight from us? Whom can we serve just as Jesus served? While it may seem our earthly resources are limited, there is no limit to the riches of grace God has given to us to share with others. May we pour out on one another the amazing generous grace of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Additional Resources for Compassion:
- BibleProject Podcast: The Uniquely Biblical View of Grace
- “Amazing Grace”: hymn performed by Keith & Kristyn Getty
Music Resources for the season of Lent: