For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.Ephesians 2:8-9
Grace is a concept most Church goers are very familiar with. It’s a very common word to throw around in Christian conversation. But has grace lost its true meaning in our lives?
We might already know that the definition of ‘grace’ is undeserved approval, but grace is almost completely unobservable in our culture. Everything we seek to do has requirements for us to get approved or accepted into. We have to have the best grades and the best test scores to get into the best colleges, our resume has to be great to land a great job, our credit score has to be in a certain zone to get the best interest rates, and so on.
Everything we’ve ever been a part of or applied for only approved of us if we deserved it.
That is how it has always been, and that is how it was in ancient jewish culture. But then Jesus came along extending His approval to the street rats of his society.
Jesus really messed with the Jewish leaders, including a guy named Saul.
Saul worked so hard for and intensely pursued the Law of God that he thought he deserved God’s attention more than those who did not live like him. So he vigorously sought to kill those who were following Jesus and experiencing God without the Law of God. Then one day when he was on his way to kill more Christians, Jesus revealed to Saul what being saved from sin really looked like. That experience changed him so much so that he changed his name to reflect how God changed his heart.
A few years later he wrote Ephesians 2:8-9. In those verses he is saying that no one can earn this gift from God. If you try to earn it you’ve lost it because no good work can clean us up enough for God. Only a perfect God can clean us perfectly for Himself. And that is what He has already done through His Son’s sacrifice. It doesn’t matter if we have good or bad grades, or how great of a job we do at work and at home. Nothing disqualifies us from or qualifies us for bring approved by God.
We know that is true, but we often live like we have to try harder before we can accept the grace of God. His grace can’t mix with our effort, because we aren’t able to recognize where His grace begins and where our work ends. When we can’t see Gods grace in our lives, we become prideful in our efforts and justify our actions even if it leads to hurting or murdering other people; thats where Saul was before He became Paul, and thats where we are when we mix Gods grace with our effort.
His saving grace comes from surrender to His work in our lives. He does the work, we join His party.
What should God’s underserved approval mean for us?