This week, I wanted to take the time out to discuss with you something that has been on my heart for quite some time. We hear about it every time we are being preached at; we constantly either quote it, or hear others quoting “where sin abounds, grace abounds more” etc. but lately I am beginning to wonder if we really understand what grace is – more importantly – if we understand it’s value. When you read this post, put aside everything you have heard and examine your own self … hopefully it speaks to you accordingly.
For those reading who are unfamiliar with the term grace, it’s best known as the “unmerited favor of God” or simply put, the kindness/goodness of God shown to mankind even when undeserved. Sounds good right? God’s kindness being shown to us without a cost – who can say “no” to that? Yet it’s this extreme kindness that I fear we have greatly misunderstood, and greatly misused. A German theologian by the name of Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book titled The Cost of Discipleship which was published in 1937. In his book he discusses the overall idea of what the calling to discipleship, and faithfulness to the teachings of Christ means to different individuals today. He continues to further explain his thoughts by introducing the term Cheap Grace versus Costly Grace – and today, that’s what I want to discuss with you.
Perhaps the most comforting thought after realizing we have failed or sinned is knowing that we have a merciful God who is always ready to forgive. We know that His love for us surpasses any weakness, any flaw, and any struggle we may have – but at what point are we taking advantage of His goodness? Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time talking to many Christians and observing the frightening mentality we have developed towards grace. As disappointing as it is, I often hear many say “I know I’m not living right but that’s ok because God’s grace is still sufficient” – PAUSE!! Is sufficient grace there for you so that you may continue to live in sin? Paul asks the same question in the book of Romans by saying: “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? [… ] Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace?” He then answers this question with a very clear response: “By no means!”
Grace may be sufficient but nobody ever said it was cheap. It’s not an excuse for us to use so that we may continue to justify our sinful lifestyle choices. Yes, I say choices because every individual is faced with the choice of obedience or disobedience. For as long as you have free will, you are constantly exercising the choices you have. Sufficient grace came to you at someone’s expense, an expense that you never had to pay … and if you understand the cost that had to be paid, then you will realize that grace was never cheap – rather, very costly.
Perhaps it’s the value we have placed on grace that has resulted in the abuse of it. Our lack of understanding in the cost that we never had to pay may be why we’ve put a cheap cost on grace. Cheap grace doesn’t come with discipline, it doesn’t come with the conviction of wanting to change. Cheap grace doesn’t value Christ, or the sacrifice of the cross. Cheap grace tells you that if you sin, it’s ok because as long as you’re forgiven you can relax and go back to doing the same old thing – it doesn’t push towards a life of repentance and consistency. Whereas costly grace convicts you of your ways, and challenges you to follow Christ with your life. It reminds you of the price paid on the cross. Costly grace compels you to submit to the yoke of Christ. Costly grace reminds you that it’s not there to promote a lifestyle of sin, but it’s there to help strengthen a lifestyle of righteousness.
So, as this week begins I want to ask you this: What’s the cost of grace to you? Do not misunderstand this post as one written to judge, or condemn you. As a matter of fact, I’m also speaking to myself as I share with you. However, I want you to look at your walk with God and re-evaluate the value that you have placed on what He has given you freely. The problem with so many of us who have done this “church life” for a while is that sometimes we get a little too comfortable with this “Christian life” that we’re attempting to live. Truth is, your call to follow Him was never meant to be a life of comfort – you were never meant to get comfortable and “chill”. If you are striving to live a life of righteousness, of obedience, of sacrifice, of discipline then it will constantly be a journey of discomfort because you are going against the desires of your flesh to please the desires of the Spirit. It’s a dangerous zone to be in when we feel like we know it all too well, and somehow find ourselves abusing the tools that have been given to us to assist us along the way.
So, let’s stop wasting time. Let’s stop going back and rolling around in that same mud we were once desperate to get cleansed from. We are a people that know much, and therefore much is expected of us. Let’s not constantly go backwards when there is so much more for us ahead. Christ was tortured and crucified on the cross once before so that you may reap the continued benefits of sufficient grace. When you choose to abuse that benefit, you’re choosing to torture and crucify Him all over again – every single time.
See you next Monday!