By randy in : Discipleship // Jun 29 2011
This is a message the Lord gave me while on Mission to Malawi, Africa in June of 2008…it would be essentially a Spiritual Weather Forecast…
When I arrived in Malawi on Saturday, I was informed that I would be preaching in the Ndirande church the next day. Well, after a long day of planning and walking into town and back, I laid down for a ‘nap’ and woke up around midnight. It was then I began deciding on a lesson to preach. At any given time there are numerous sermons that I am ready to preach ‘in and out of season,’ but none of them would have been of the Lord. So I read, meditated upon, and searched the Scriptures for several hours to see what the Lord would have me teach His people.
After some time in prayer, the Lord gave me ‘Grace.’ That was the topic the Lord pressed in my Spirit. Yet, I convinced myself that could not be it, as that was too simple of a topic for this church and this setting, especially for an hour+ message. So I brushed it aside and put my ear phones on and tried to listen harder. Guess the name of first song that played on my mp3 player? “Grace like Rain” by Todd Agnew. Long story short(er), the next 5 songs in a row that played delivered the confirmation and motivation I needed to preach that message. However, it was from a whole new perspective. Please find it below.
When you hear or read the word Grace what do you think of? When I asked myself that, I came up with a gift, something we do not deserve, God’s saving Grace, etc. When I asked the congregation this morning the same question, I got generally the same answers. Grace is essentially something that God gives and that we receive. The two most common verses cited dealing with Grace were: (1) Ephesians 2:8 “For by Grace are ye saved through faith…” (2) Hebrews 4:16 “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace…” We all seemed to have a one dimensional view of Grace…we identify it as a unidirectional thing…it is something that flows from God supernaturally to us. This was why I so quickly dismissed the topic for preaching.
What the Lord was wanting to teach me and then have me share was that we should be giving Grace on the same level that we are receiving it. Grace should not simply be something for us but something that should flow from us.
In the world there are many people that can “Dish it out, but can’t take it.” The ‘it’ possibly being joking, teasing, criticism, sarcasm, etc. But the Lord showed me that many of us in the church, including me, are just the opposite… specifically with Grace. We acquire and accumulate grace with supernatural ease, but our propensity and desire to distribute that same grace seems practically nil by comparison.
When I started the study, I searched for all of the times the word Grace is used in the Bible. It is found a total of 170 times in all. There 39 uses of Grace in the Old Testament and 131 in the New. One thing that I found of interest was that Grace was only used 5 times in all of the Gospels combined. 4 are in John and 1 in Luke. None of the words translated “Grace” were spoken by Jesus in the Gospels. We do however find Jesus quoted by Paul as using the Word Grace in 2 Corinthians 12:8. This is when Paul has besought the Lord for removing his ‘thorn in the flesh,’ to which the Lord responded with “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”
The Apostle Paul truly labored to teach us about Grace. His Epistles use the word 91 times in all. Enough of the background, here is what the Lord was trying to show me.
I Receiving Grace we get. Access to the throne of Grace we get. Promises assigned to those under Grace we get.
II Can I (we) Give Grace? That is the question!
So here were some of the things I noticed after reading the 170 uses of the word Grace in Scripture.
- The Old Testament used it almost exclusively in the context of ‘finding grace in the sight of’ God or man. In other words it was about finding mercy, compassion, favor, something undeserved. It was typically sought by an ‘inferior’ from a ‘superior’ in rank, status, power or position.
- In the New Testament it often goes hand in hand with mercy, peace, forgiveness, love, faith, compassion, giving, etc.
So my next question was how do we “Give Grace?” There are several ways that are outlined in Scripture. This small list here is in no way exhaustive. The key I found was that we can and should give Grace in just as many ways as we can receive it. Notice the following:
We can give Grace through Forgiveness:
In Matthew 6, Jesus is training His disciples. One of the first things He does is to teach them how to pray. Notice here the Lord’s model of Prayer: Matthew 6:9-13 “9After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11Give us this day our daily bread. 12And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Now notice what immediately follows the prayer model. Notice the one thing out of the prayer teaching that He calls their attention to: “14For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
Jesus does not reemphasize God’s holiness, the need to focus on His will, asking for provisions, avoiding temptation, etc… Instead He magnifies the need for us to SHOW forgiveness otherwise we cannot RECEIVE forgiveness. Our forgiveness from God is conditional upon our being able to forgive those that have hurt us. This truth is taught throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the parables. Nowhere is this clearer than in Matthew 18:21-35.
21Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done. 32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.”
We give the Grace of Forgiveness just as we receive it from the Lord… undeserved. Are we giving the grace of forgiveness equivalent with the Grace we are receiving from the Lord? If a Holy and Perfect God can forgive us for sinning against Him, our Creator, the Lover of our Soul, who are we to harbor unforgiveness in our hearts from another of God’s creatures? Are we better than God? Is ‘sinning’ against us a greater sin that what we have committed against our Lord?
We can give Grace through our Speech
Colossians 4:6 reads, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
Ephesians 4:29-32 agrees, “29Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
A person that has received Grace ought to speak and communicate with Grace. This has been one of my greatest struggles. (See the Belt of Truth). Notice that Paul also ties Graceful speech to: Edification, Ministry, Grieving the Holy Spirit (if not spoken), and forgiveness. This is how people will truly know we have been saved by Grace is the Grace that we speak to them. If we are not speaking with the Grace of God, we are giving place for Satan to accuse and attack us (Ephesians 4:27). Opening our mouth without bathing our Words in Grace is like inviting Satan in. Jesus also counseled often that “18But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (Matthew 15:18-19)
We give Graceful Speech the same way it was received, with love, compassion, mercy and spoken for the intent of building up and not tearing down, all so God may be glorified. We speak Grace out of the abundance of Grace in our heart or… we speak it not if our heart has no Grace. If you squeeze a lemon, you will get lemon juice. The same for us is true; whatever is on the inside comes out in our speech. When God allows you to be squeezed like a sponge, He is trying to get you to see what He already sees on the inside.
We can give Grace through Mercy
Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines Mercy as “compassion for the miserable.” Mercy is another one of those gifts that we must give in order to receive. In the Beatitudes, Matthew 5:7, we find the Lord’s sermon including this concept, “7Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” Can you imagine suffering from a horrible debilitating disease for years, knowing all the while it was terminal and hopeless? Can you then imagine someone has mercy and compassion on you and cures you for free? For the trifecta, can you image now that person giving you an unlimited supply of the cure for free to cure the rest of the countless victims ravaged by the plague?
A person that had received that mercy should want to go out and give that same mercy. The same should be true of you and I. If we have understood our own misery in sin and had been set free by the Way, the Truth and the Life of Jesus, we too should want to have the same mercy on others. This is in fact why the Holy Spirit is given to us. Notice Isaiah 61:1-2 “1The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; 2To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;”
The Holy Spirit dwells in us to equip us to have mercy on the miserable. We give Mercy the same way we receive it, compassionately, purposefully, freely, unselfishly and completely.
There are countless other ways to give Grace, the more we understand God’s Grace in our lives, the more we will recognize opportunities to give it. Things like loving our enemies, praying for those that mistreat you, being peacemakers, giving of ourselves, our home, our resources even our very lives.
I challenge you to search your heart to see how much grace you are giving vs. how much grace you are seeking and receiving. You may in fact be limiting what the Lord can do in your life until you unclog the outflow of your own Grace-pipes. Ask the Lord for more opportunities to give Grace to those around you. Then consider…WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T GIVE GRACE?