Monday, 8 August 2016

Love and grace

'Love and marriage, love and marriage, go together like a horse and carriage...' In the same way that love and marriage go together so do love and grace. You can't have love without grace. 

'For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it.' Eph 2:8-9

Grace is not something that we earn. It is not awarded because of something we have done. God's grace is given in mercy and not based on merit. His grace is never ending, which is just as well. We really don't deserve God's grace but that's the point. 

Grace, or being gracious is wrapped up in forgiveness. To be gracious with others we need to accept them as they are, warts and all, and to forgive their idiosyncrasies. To show love we also have to show grace and that involves acceptance and forgiveness. 

God's grace is perhaps hard for us to understand because we are so hard on other people and so hard on ourselves. We often want to beat ourselves up when we do something wrong. The bigger the mistake the bigger the stick. The bigger the stick, the less grace we show ourselves until we fail to forgive ourselves, yet alone ask God for his forgiveness. We think we are not worthy but God says, 'Yes you are, you are my child, and I love you.'

God doesn't want to beat us with a stick, he doesn't want us to feel guilty, he wants us to accept his grace, and his forgiveness and his love. Grace and forgiveness may seem alien to us if we are use to beating ourselves up, in the same way love can be alien to us if we don't actually love ourselves. It is impossible to give love unless we have experienced it for ourselves. It is impossible to behave lovingly to other people, unless we are loving towards ourselves. 

We don't have to earn God's love he bestows it upon us because of his grace. He forgives us through his grace and because of his abounding love for us. Paul's prayer for us is that we may know God's love as he knows it. 

'I pray that Christ will make his home in your hearts through faith. I pray that you may have your roots and foundations in love, so that together with all God's people, may have the power to understand how broad and long, how heigh and deep, is Christ's love. Yes, may you come to know his love - although it can never be fully known - and so be completely filled with the very nature of God.' Eph 3:14-19