The most beautiful and frustrating thing about grace is that it’s free.
Many of you have heard me say this before. And I’m reminded of it today. It seems that when we sin we ought to pay some kind of penance. “Oh no! I’ve just wronged the God of the universe, I guess I ought to do some kind of nice thing so he won’t be mad at me.” This thinking is foolish. The slightest wrong against an eternal being is an infinite wrong. No amount of homage, penance, sacrifice, or prayer could make up for my infinite transgression. We are completely separated from God and entirely unable to go to him by our own will.
When I have sinned all I want to do is make up for my wrong. I want to put myself right. I want to make everything okay. Ultimately, I want my spiritual journey to be my achievement. I want to make myself righteous. O but thank God that this is not the case! God broke in and pursued us. He broke into our world and has been turning things upside down for quite awhile now. He’s been righting wrongs, forgiving sins, straightening paths, healing wounds, and breaking chains. Thanks be to God for this! For I am unable!
If I were in charge of my own spiritual life I would be only a pile of dust on the ground. Apart from the breath of God into my lungs I would not even be able to desire righteousness. Righteousness would be a substance entirely foreign to my mind, heart, and soul. But thanks be to God that by his free grace an immoral being like me has tasted righteousness; a mortal like me has glimpsed eternity.
This is a sweet thought. And not merely a thought, but a sweet truth. That by his grace we have no claim to righteousness, yet we have tasted its goodness. But here is the most humiliating and humbling thing about grace: When I received the free grace of God years ago as I began to trust in his faithfulness I received grace not only for my past sins, but for every sin I would ever commit. What I mean is this: Grace is not a tonic which heals us from a disease. It is sustenance which gives us life. Grace is not medicine, it is water. It is not a delicacy it is a staple. When we trust in the Lord, we do not simply receive his tonic of grace so we can make it on our own after we have recovered. We commit to drink from his pool of life for eternity. He himself said that it “is a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:14)
To think that grace is simply a mere tonic is to misunderstand the magnitude of God and our transgression from his desire. First, it sees our sin as only a disease. We are not sick with sin. We are dead with it. We need no simple cure, we need a resurrecting substance. Second, we miss the eternity of God when we make his grace into a tonic. This kind of grace will only ever be experienced in the past tense. God is far bigger than that. God is not past tense. HE IS the I AM. When he invited you to his eternal pool of life he did not do so only based on prior knowledge, but on complete knowledge of you. Take Tozer’s words:
To us who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us in the gospel, how unutterably sweet is the knowledge that our Heavenly Father knows us completely. No talebearer can inform on us, no enemy can make an accusation stick; no forgotten skeleton can come tumbling out of some hidden closet to abash us and expose our past; no unsuspected weakness in our characters can come to light to turn God away from us, since He knew us utterly before we knew Him and called us to Himself in the full knowledge of everything that was against us. (Knowledge of the Holy, 57)
When we consider the eternity of God we can be fully confident in his free and never ending grace. We can rest in, drink from, rely on, and receive from the grace of God. Open your hands and let go of that prideful religion, that desire to earn your righteousness, and receive the beautiful, pure, sweet, and free grace from the hand of God.