January 29, 2018 • Life for Leaders
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.
Several years ago, a couple invited my wife, Linda, and me to join them for an educational conference in a resort town. They made it very clear that we were to be their guests. I expect they knew this sort of trip was far beyond our budget. At first, we felt awkward accepting their offer, even though we sensed the genuineness with which it had been extended. As Linda and I talked it through, it seemed that our friends really did want us to come along and we were excited to join them. So, we accepted their offer. They paid for our travel, lodging, conference fees, and all of our meals. Honestly, it felt odd receiving such generosity. I hadn’t experienced anything like that since I was a child, financially dependent on my parents. Yet it also felt wonderful to be treated so well. We didn’t deserve such treatment, mind you. But it was utterly delightful. It was also a demonstration of grace, lavish grace.
I remember this experience when I read Ephesians 1:7-8. There, Paul says that we have redemption and forgiveness through Christ’s death, “in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.” We have already learned from this chapter of Ephesians that God’s grace is glorious (1:6). Now we see that it is also rich and abundant. It’s not as if God has some little stockpile of grace that he doles out stingily. On the contrary, God’s pile is huge and he doesn’t give it away in tiny portions. Rather, God lavishes his grace on us. The Greek word translated here as “to lavish” literally means “to cause to abound” or “to do something in great measure.” So, God’s grace is rich and lavishly given. That’s what God has done through Christ.
Do you think of God’s grace in this way? Do you think of God as a lavish giver? Perhaps you do. If so that’s wonderful. But many of us, including those of us who have been Christians for a long time, tend to minimize God’s grace and to project on him a stinginess that reflects our own limitations and not God’s revelation in Christ and in Scripture. Thus, we live in fear that we will exhaust God’s grace. We worry that God’s grace might run out. And, therefore, we are stingy in our gracious (or grace-less!) dealings with others.
Yet the more we allow God’s Word to form us, the more we reflect upon the wonder of the cross, the more we experience God as he is and not according to our projections, the more we will grasp and experience the lavishness of grace. We’ll live in the freedom that comes from receiving richly the riches of God’s grace. And we’ll delight in sharing that grace with others. As Jesus said, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8).
Something to Think About:
Have you ever experienced lavish grace in your life? When? How did it feel?
In what ways have you experienced the lavishness of God’s grace?
Are there areas of your life where you need more grace?
Something to Do:
Sometimes, we open our hearts to receiving more of God’s grace by giving grace to others. Can you think of someone in your life who needs the gift of grace today? If so, find a way to offer grace to that person. As you do, see if you can feel God’s grace alive within you.
Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me,
His Word my hope secures;
He will my Shield and Portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess, within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow,
The sun forbear to shine;
But God, who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun. Amen.
“Amazing Grace” by John Newton, 1799. Last verse by an unknown author, 1829. Public domain.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.