We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you —see that you excel in this act of grace also. 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
The New Testament writers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, place emphasis upon the grace of God.
- In this passage, Paul features “the grace of God” as he urges us to excel in this “act of grace.” 2 Corinthians 8:1, 7
- James states,
- “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. James 1:16-18
- Matthew quotes Jesus,
- 5 These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, 6 but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 7 And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ 8 Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay. 9 Acquire no gold or silver or copper for your belts, 10 no bag for your journey, or two tunics or sandals or a staff, for the laborer deserves his food. 11 And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart. 12 As you enter the house, greet it. 13 And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. 14 And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town. 15 Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
God’s grace and God’s grace alone is responsible for existence and goodness.
This is true spiritually too.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10
As we move into the fast approaching holiday season, let’s place priority upon the exquisite joy of having received God’s grace and the accompanying delight of giving God’s grace.
We pledge to excel in giving God’s grace.
From God and through His grace we receive life, faith, hope and love.
- Having received God’s grace, I give life.
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10
- Having received God’s grace, I give faith.
For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3
- Having received God’s grace, I give hope.
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. Romans 15:13
- Having received God’s grace, I give love.
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Romans 12:10
Notice the concept of excelling in three of these four passages.
- Jesus offers abundant
- Romans 15 speaks of abounding in hope.
- Romans 12 tells us to “outdo” one another in honoring.
In this way we are to truthfully be able to say:
- Having received God’s grace, I excel in giving life
- Having received God’s grace, I excel in giving faith.
- Having received God’s grace, I excel in giving hope.
- Having received God’s grace, I excel in giving love.
The best test of success is not external or internal in us but within those to whom we give this life, faith, hope and love.
Robert K. Greenleaf writes, in his impactful book, Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness,
“The best test is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?”
In the terms of this teaching, we might morph Mr. Greenleaf’s paragraph as follows:
The best test is: Do those who receive God’s grace through me grow as persons? Do they, while receiving, become more alive, faith-full, hope-full, love-full and more likely themselves to excel in giving God’s grace? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society; will they benefit, or, at least, not be further deprived?
We give God’s grace by:
- Provision (actions)
The Bible urges us to excel in this grace.
- To superabound
- To be over and above
- To exceed the ordinary
- To go beyond the expected measure
- To surpass
As we approach the Lord’s Table, we remember God’s grand grace given to us. Ephesians 1:3-10
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.