God’s Grace ~ Part 18

 “Perhaps there is no word in the Bible more precious than Grace.”
~ Rick Countryman, Senior Pastor, Big Valley Grace Community Kehilah
Modesto, Ca.

“The Sufficiency of God’s Grace ~ Part C”

In my previous posts in this mini-series, we looked at the sufficiency of God’s Grace to get us through our life on planet earth and the pride of self-sufficiency. Today, I want to wrap up this topic on the actual sufficiency of His Grace.

Our key verse for this mini-series is: “But He [Yeshua] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Yeshua’s power may reside in me.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9

The Sufficiency of Grace

Before we can learn the sufficiency of God’s Grace, we must learn the insufficiency of ourselves. As I have said, the more we see our sinfulness, the more we appreciate grace in its basic meaning of God’s undeserved favor.  In a similar manner, the more we see our frailty, weakness, and dependence, the more we appreciate God’s Grace in its dimension of His divine assistance.  Just as grace shines more brilliantly against the dark background of our sin, so it also shines more brilliantly against the background of our human weakness.

In Part 1 of this series, we have looked at Sha’ul’s words in Romans 5:20:  “But where sin proliferated, grace proliferated even more.” He could have just as aptly said in 2 Corinthians 12, “But where human weakness increased, grace increased all the more.”  That is essentially what he said in different words in verse 9: “but He told me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is brought to perfection in weakness.” Therefore, I am very happy to boast about my weaknesses, in order that the Messiah’s power will rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Yeshua’s power is made perfect in weakness.

In this passage, God equates His grace with His power as specifically displayed in our weakness. This power infusing our weakness is a concrete expression of His grace: His power comes to our aid through the ministry of His Ruach in our lives.  This is the mysterious operation of the Ruach on our human spirit through which He strengthens us and enables us to meet in a godly fashion whatever circumstances we encounter.

Notice I said the Ruach strengthens us and enables us to meet in a godly fashion whatever circumstances cross our paths.  God’s Grace is not given to make us feel better, but to glorify Him.  Modern society’s subtle, underlying agenda is good feelings.  We want the pain to go away.  We want to feel better in difficult situations, but God wants us to glorify Him in those circumstances.  Good feelings may come, or they may not, but that is not the issue.  The issue is whether or not we honor God by the way we respond to our circumstances.  God’s Grace – that is, the enabling power of the Ruach – is given to help us respond in such a way.

God’s Grace is sufficient. The Greek verb translated “is sufficient” is the same one translated “will be satisfied” in I Timothy 6:8:  “so if we have food and clothing, we will be satisfied with these.” This helps us understand what sufficient means.  Food and clothing refer to the necessities of life, not the luxuries.  If we have the necessities we are to be satisfied; that is, we are to realize they are sufficient.  God may give us more from time to time, but we are to be satisfied with the necessities.

So it is with God’s Grace in the Spiritual realm. God always gives us what we need, perhaps sometimes more, but never less.  The Spiritual equivalent of food and clothing is simply the strength to endure in a way that honors God.  Receiving that strength, we are to be satisfied – content.  We would like the “luxury” of having our particular thorn removed, but God often says, “Be content with the strength to endure that thorn.” We can be confident He always gives that.

Whether it is the continuing thorn in the flesh or the extraordinary crisis that sometimes occurs, both are intended by God to keep us conscious of our human weakness and our dependence on Him, so that we might experience the sufficiency of His grace and the adequacy of His power.

Sha’ul’s attitude toward his weakness was vastly different from our usual modern response. We abhor weakness and glory in self-sufficiency and manmade accomplishments.  Even Believers flock to hear the sports superstar or the popular entertainer give his or her testimony, simply because of that person’s fame and status.  How many of us would make any effort to hear a man who said, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses…. I delight in weaknesses….  For when I am weak, then I am strong”?

I think of how I have struggled with my own weaknesses instead of delighting in them. I think of the disappointment of failing to reach important goals, of humiliations suffered that were too painful to ever share with anyone, of somewhat minor but very annoying lifetime physical infirmities.  Only in the last few years have I realized what a significant contribution those disappointments, heartaches, and frustrations – especially in their cumulative effect – have made on my walk with God and my service for Him.  I think I am only beginning to understand a little bit the validity of Sha’ul’s statement, “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 2:10 HCSB)

I will be forever grateful for the “thorn in my flesh” that God used to teach me patience. The testimonies of God’s power made perfect in human weakness do not end with the completion of the canon of Scripture.  Down through the centuries men and women of God have experienced and borne witness to the sufficiency of His grace.  His Love has no limits, His Grace has no measure, His Power has no boundary known unto men; for out of His infinite riches in Yeshua, He gives, and gives, and gives again.

God’s Grace is sufficient. It is sufficient for all your needs; it is sufficient regardless of the severity of any one need.  The Israeli never exhausted God’s supply of manna.  It was always there to be gathered every day for forty years.  And you will never exhaust the supply of God’s Grace.  It will always be there every day for you to appropriate as much as you need for whatever your need is.

How Does Grace Get You Through? [1]

There are many pitfalls in the marathon of life. But regardless of what you go through, you can count on God’s sustaining grace.

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:12, “My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in his grace” (NLT).

There are three things in life that can cause you to stumble, to get cast off to the side of the race, and to not finish well in life. And in each of these situations, God’s sustaining grace will get you through.

  1. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tempted. Temptation is the first thing that causes us to stumble. The Bible says, “God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.” (1 Corinthians 10:13b) God says, “I will provide the sustaining grace to always give you a way of escape.” It may mean turn the channel. It may mean run out the door. It may mean change the way you’re thinking. But he will provide a way to escape temptation.
  2. God’s sustaining grace helps you keep standing when you’re tired. Sometimes you’re not tempted. Sometimes you’re just tired! Life is often exhausting. It requires a lot of energy, especially when you’re trying to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. But where do you get the power to do the right thing when you’re dead tired? “It is God who enables us, along with you, to stand firm for Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22a). The key is having the Holy Spirit in your heart to have the energy to do the things you can’t do in your own power.
  3. God’s sustaining grace gives you the power to keep going when you’re troubled. There are some hurts that all the wishing in the world won’t make go away. There are some things in life that are unplanned, unrelenting, and undeserved – and they hurt the most.

What do you do in those situations? You first stop doing the “If only” game and instead focus on Christ and his sustaining power.  Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid, because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you” (NCV).

That’s how you get sustaining grace.

Click here for a PDF version.

[1] Reprinted from Rick Warren’s Daily Hope, March 20, 2014.

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