Love Triumphs and Grace Prevails

Jesus helped by Simon of Cyrene, part of a ser...

Jesus helped by Simon of Cyrene, part of a series depicting the stations of the Cross. Chapel Nosso Senhor dos Passos, Santa Casa de Misericórdia of Porto Alegre, Brazil. Oil on canvas, XIXth century, unknown author. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

One of the most significant events that had ever occurred in the history of the world was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ at Calvary. It was a horrible and despicable act, which had been preordained and deemed necessary for the atonement of sin. Those who saw this historic event saw love triumph over evil. The proverbial captives who were bound and blindfolded were set free–not because they were innocent. But because of the grace of God. Here, is how the apostle Paul puts it: “For by grace, you have been granted a stay of execution through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, and not a result of works, so no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Admittedly, the keeper of the flame thought he had the condemned (You and I) in his grasps forever, but Jesus armed with instructions from His father stepped up to the execution stake and paid the ransom with His life. It was not His will but that of His father, the righteous Judge who had handed down the death sentence many years earlier.

Still, we are not free from blame yet. We are on probation. Therefore, if we do not break up our folly grounds and turned from our wicked ways, we could still end up in the enemy’s clutches once again. Many will argue, and I have in the past that Jesus died for sins once and for all. However, after reading Matthew 7: 21-23 I realized that Jesus’ death on the cross saved humanity from imminent destruction but most assuredly not forever.

Here, is what Jesus told His disciples: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what my Father in heaven wants. On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!

How to reap the benefits of God’s leadership in your life?

Icon of Jesus Christ

Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A college professor laid out his teaching philosophy on the first day of class: “If you allow me, I will teach you as much as I can in these few short weeks, but if you defy me, I guarantee that you will learn nothing. You will not like everything I tell you, but if you follow my instructions, you will leave these class much better thinkers than when you came in.”

The professor was a task master who demanded perfection from his students. Many students who were too lazy to put forth the actual effort, lost interest and complained about the strict grading and disparaging comments. The few extremely dedicated ones, found their professor to be one of the finest they ever had, and they valued his opinion above all others. This man helped them become better than they thought possible.

God offers us the same deal. If we are open to His leadership, He will help us achieve our full potential. However, if we resist His help, we can never hope to achieve that goal. Wise men and women get to be smart by listening and trying to improve themselves. They are never satisfied with whom they are today, but they always look forward to what they can become tomorrow. Proverbs 9:9 say it best: “Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;  teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.”

So Let no one deceive himself brethren. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their own craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” Therefore, let no one boast in men. For all things are God’s: whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas, or the world or life or death, or things present or things to come—all are God’s. And you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:18-23).

Who am I that God should be generous toward me?

English: Saint paul arrested

Image via Wikipedia

I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I have persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

It is amazing how humble the apostle Paul had become after his conversion. A zealous tax collector by trade, Saul wreaked havoc on the early Church. He was hated and feared by many. Yet God saw it fit to grant him favor and used him to grow the Church.

But Paul understood that he was not worthy of God’s grace and generosity and neither do you nor I, or anyone else in this world. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). In a letter to the Church in Ephesus, Paul exhorts the Church that salvation is not earned; It’s a gift from God. Here is what Paul writes: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Who do you know that would give you a gift for doing nothing?  It is hard to find one person, yet that’s exactly what Jesus did! Furthermore, when you look at your life and compare it to God’s life, it becomes quite overwhelming and unfathomable to realize that you are a recipient of His love. When you compare your sins, your failures, and your defeats with His holiness, goodness, and righteousness, it can prompt you to ask, “Who am I that God should generous toward me?”

Still  as hard as it might be to fully comprehend, the fact remains that the Creator of all things, the omnipotent God has sent His Son, Jesus Christ into this world and then into your life. Believe it or not, “little insignificant you and me” are recipients of Almighty God’s all-encompassing, all-embracing, goodness, kindness and generosity in Jesus Christ.

God, in His mercy and grace, delights in giving the highest to the lowliest, the greatest to the smallest, the fullest to the emptiest, and the mightiest to the weakest.

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