God is gracious towards me and you.
In my last article I stressed that grace is who God is. God is grace. Of course that is just one of His coequal attributes, but it is the one we are focusing on at the moment. So does it end there? Simply say “God is grace” and that is all we need to know about Him and His radical grace? Not by a mile.
Who we are informs what we do. This is true of you and me. Our being – the true person we are – is always shown through our actions. If we are a kind person, our actions will show that. If we are cruel, then we will show we are cruel. We can cover ourselves for a while, but the true person always – ALWAYS – shows through the mask we try to wear. The same is true for God. Well, except He doesn’t try to hide who He is. But who He is always shows through to us, if we are willing to open our eyes and behold it.
Grace is, at its core, unmerited favor. It is something that is not earned or deserved.
It is something that actually cannot be earned and is not deserved. But it is given nonetheless. So imagine if you and I were grace. We not only possessed grace, but were actually grace. We would find someone to shed that grace on, wouldn’t we. The same is true for God. He doesn’t need to look far in order to find those who are in need of grace does he?
The world He created is full of rebellious, sinful people who continually look for their own good. This present generation is a sight to behold. We sin and like it. We rebel and want more of it. We are a stiff-necked people. Proud of our insubordination. Proud of our sin. Proud of our godless culture. We exclaim “We are wise!” and thus demonstrate or foolishness. We are a needy people who believe we have abundance. We are a sorry lot indeed.
We deserve to be punished. We deserve to be forgotten, wiped off the face of the earth. Yes we do. But you know what? We aren’t the first group of malcontents that God has endured. We aren’t the first groups of self-absorbed, self-righteous people He has wrestled. No, we aren’t the first. And we won’t be the last.
God, being a God who is grace, acts according to His being. He will never contradict who He is. Back in Exodus, we see an event where God acts upon His nature – acts according to His being. Let’s take a look at what is done and what we can glean from it.
Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship. He said, “If now I have found favor in Your sight, O Lord, I pray, let the Lord go along in our midst, even though the people are so obstinate, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your own[ possession.” Exodus 34:8-9 NASB
Moses, knowing who God is, is now asking God to act according to His being, not according to who the Israelites were. The first thing I notice is that Moses was quick to bow down in worship.The Hebrew word translated bow is qadad. It means to shrivel, bends one’s neck, stoop down in deference. Think of Moses on his knees, then bending even more so his face touches the ground. This is how he is before God. It is a position of humility.
While in this humble position of submission, he asks God basically a couple of things, with one predicated on the other. He first asks if [he] has found favor in God’s sight. That word for favor – chen – can mean grace. Wow, Moses was looking for grace. The way Moses asks this is tantamount to asking that God grant grace to him. But this isn’t for Moses. And yet again we see the heart that made Moses such a great leader. His concern was for the people of Israel.
He then asks God to 1) go along with Israel; 2) forgive their sin; and 3) take them as His possession. In other words, Moses is asking God to act graciously towards the nation. I don’t think Moses was questioning whether God is the God of grace. No, I think Mose was counting on that.
Among the request for gracious action is the reason that graciousness is required: we are obstinate and sinful. Now there is some honesty! How we could use some of that today.
So what happened? Well, God acted according to who He is, not what Israel deserved.
He was – and is – gracious towards them.
I need to stress that none of God’s attributes operate in isolation from His other attributes. Also, non of His attributes is more important or more powerful than the others. This may sound strange and difficult to grasp, but it is true.
So God’s holiness does not operate independently of His love, righteousness, or grace. So too, His righteousness – which demands a payment for sin – does not operate independently of His love. Grace is sort of the bridge between these two. It kind of connects His love with His holiness. This is a very imperfect analogy but it is the best I can do. Somehow, these seemingly contradictory attributes work in perfect harmony. His grace allows Him to not to exact a payment from those who have wronged Him and sinned against Him.
He has expressed His grace is a number of ways. Think about the salvation you enjoy. It is by grace.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 NASB
The fact that God came to us in the form of a man is an act of grace.
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 through His poverty might become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 NASB
It was His grace that took Him to the cross for sins committed by us. It was His grace that hung Him on that tree – that old rugged cross – for your sins and mine.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:9 NASB
There are many other ways God demonstrates His grace to us. Some of them are obvious. Others aren’t so obvious. But they all are demonstrations of who He is. Take time this next week to look for His grace in your life. Take time to write those grace moments down. Reflect on them. I dare you to look for His grace in your life. If you do, you’ll find much more than you think is there.