There are precious few things that can compare to the grace of God. So enthralled with the subject was John Newton, that he penned these words:
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost, but now am found
T'was blind but now I see.”
Having delivered him from the depths of his sins, Mr. Newton could think of no better word to describe the grace of God than “amazing.” It is the extraordinary (my favorite word to describe it) grace of God that reaches down into the horrific sinfulness of humanity and redeems the penitent sinner. Familiar to most believers is the seminal passage describing this wonderful event: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Having experienced this grace as a teenager, I find myself further indebted to the grace of God as He forgives me when I sin. I love what Paul wrote in the 5th chapter of Romans: “...where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20). As I age, I find myself thinking more and more about the words of Robert Robinson in his hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” I am increasingly drawn to this verse:
“O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.”
No matter the situation, regardless of our stage in life, we all are in ever increasing need of God’s grace. Having said that, have you noticed the variety of situations in which we find ourselves needing grace? Those needs remind me of something one of my Professors told me at Central Baptist College. “God has no generic grace.” That particular conversation was prompted by Peter’s description of God’s grace as expressed through the lives of His children. Peter wrote: “As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).
My Professor’s premise was based on the word Peter used to describe God’s grace. Peter said the grace was “manifold.” The word speaks of “various colors, variegated, of various sorts” (New Testament Greek Lexicon). His illustration was simple: if you have a “red” problem, God has “red” grace for it. Got a “blue” problem – no problem, God has “blue” grace. The implications are staggering! There is no situation – no issue – no hazard – no crisis where God’s amazing, extraordinary grace cannot meet the need.
I’ve seen that magnificent display of grace in its wonderful manifestations lately. I saw it in a dear friend who surrendered her spouse of more than forty years to death. On that same day, I saw it on display in one of my very best friends who, after a decade of fighting has decided to change his treatment of cancer to palliative care. I saw it through a couple of conversations with another friend who was concerned about a threat to his home. I see it regularly in my friend who, despite lingering effects of a serious stroke, cooks for her church family, and despite the physical challenges, plays piano in her church. I see it in the lives of several friends who are committed to their vow of “for better or worse” as they serve their spouses in the latter part of that vow. I see it in my friend who serves as Pastor of a large church, with all of its attendant issues. I see it in the hearts of my Pastor friends who labor in churches where growth happens in painstakingly slow and small steps.
It’s true. Regardless of the countless issues that confront the children of God, we may rest easy, knowing that God has a specific grace for each of our needs. What about those who do not yet know God through a personal relationship with Christ? Just for you, I offer the words of Julia Johnston:
“Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace,
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?”
(“Grace Greater Than Our Sin”)