September 2018 Blog Theme: Embracing Both Obedience and Mercy
Grace is not just a one-time experience; it is a daily reality for the follower of Jesus. (John 1.16 ESV) says, “For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” Like the tide that continually rolls in wave after wave, never stopping, never ending; God’s grace is always moving toward you, day after day, moment by moment.
There is a beautiful picture of God’s grace found in the Book of 2 Samuel. After finally subduing his enemies, King David was living in his palace in Jerusalem. One day, the Lord put on his heart to extend grace to the household of his best friend, Jonathan, who had died in a bloody battle against the Philistines. David inquired if there were any of Jonathan’s children still alive that he could bless.
It was reported that Jonathan’s youngest son, Mephibosheth, was alive and living in a small remote village in Israel. Mephibosheth was only five years old when his father died, and when the word of the tragedy reached Jonathan’s home, his family panicked and fled. In the process, the young woman carrying Mephibosheth tripped and fell, permanently crippling him in both feet. In every way, this young man was completely unable to care for himself. Twice in the chapter it is reported, “he is lame in both feet,” (2 Samuel 9.3,13 NIV).
David summoned Mephibosheth to his palace and he said, “Don’t be afraid … for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table,” (2 Samuel 9.7 NIV). Now this is a picture of grace! David was saying, “Because of my love for your father, I will treat you as one of my own. I will restore to you all the property that belonged to your grandfather, King Saul, and you will live with me and enjoy my fellowship at my table all the days of your life!” This is over-the-top, head-shaking, shoulder-shrugging, unbelievable grace. While most kings would have seen an heir to the throne as an enemy to be annihilated, David chose to set his grace and kindness upon Mephibosheth because of his relationship with Jonathan.
This is an excerpt from the book Walk with God by Craig Etheredge, which you can purchase here.
What David did that day was truly an undeserved gift of favor. This is what God the Father has done for you and me. While we were enemies of God, rebels and lawbreakers, God chose to set His affection and kindness on us — not because of anything we have done, but because of His Son, Jesus. We are loved because of Jesus. We are accepted because of Jesus. We are blessed because of Jesus. Now, we are a part of God’s family, citizens of heaven, promised a new home with Him forever and enjoying fellowship with the Father — all because of Jesus.
What is the proper response to such lavish grace? Fully embrace God’s grace in your life every day.
How can you embrace God’s grace? First, realize that your position of favor before God is not a result of your own work or efforts, but solely because of Jesus. In (Ephesians 1.3-10 NIV), the Apostle Paul wrote: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will — to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment — to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Here Paul is listing off some of the blessings that are ours because of God’s grace. Notice the phrases in Him or in Christ, or through Jesus Christ. The fact that you are forgiven, adopted, chosen, clean, loved and drawn near to God, coupled with the fact that you have been given joy, hope, peace, assurance, power and favor — all of this is because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross.
Don’t ever think that somehow you have earned your place at God’s table because of the good things you have done. Don’t ever think that God had mercy on you because you tried to live a moral life or did your best to be a good person. The only reason you have experienced the grace of God is because of Jesus. The Father showered grace on you on behalf of His Son.
Because you didn’t earn your seat at the table of God’s favor, there is nothing you can do to maintain your place of grace. Mephibosheth did not do anything to deserve David’s blessings and nothing was required of him to maintain them. In the same way, just as you came into a relationship with God by grace, now live every day depending and relying on His grace.
Another way to embrace God’s grace in your daily life is to be thankful for all God has done for you. When King David announced all he planned to do for him, Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?,” (2 Samuel 9.8 NIV). He realized how unworthy he was to receive such grace. I can imagine every time Mephibosheth woke up in the palace, he was reminded of how blessed he was to be there. One minute he was an enemy of the king, hiding out in a small village. The next minute, he was treated as a son of the King, eating at his table.
Paul wrote, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ,” (Ephesians 1.3 NIV). This is why we praise Jesus. This is why we worship Him. Because His steadfast love never fails. (Psalm 107.1 NIV) says, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Choose to live every day with gratitude in your heart. Remember that every good thing that comes into your life is an expression of God’s love and grace toward you, (James 1.17 ESV).
Jesus modeled this for us. During His last meal with His disciples, Jesus prayed, “Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you,” (John 17.7 NIV). Jesus knew that every good thing, every blessing, every success, came from His Father. Never begin to think that the blessings you have on this earth are because of your hard work or wise planning. All that you enjoy are blessings from God, who loves to shower you with His grace.
A third way to embrace God’s grace in your life is to be loyal to King Jesus. Serve Him, love Him and obey Him. Mephibosheth’s loyalty would later be tested, but he doggedly refused to turn against his king. The best response to God’s grace is to live your life for Jesus unashamed and unreserved. (Romans 12.1-2 NIV) says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Paul was saying, “in view of God’s mercy, offer your body.”
In light of God’s grace, the only proper response is obedience to Jesus. Be loyal to your King. Don’t conform to this world. Allow God’s Word to transform you completely. Seek to know and do His perfect will for your life, but remember that even your obedience is an expression of God’s grace. In (Philippians 2.12-13 NIV) Paul wrote, “Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Even your desire and ability to obey Jesus comes from your heavenly Father. It’s all God’s grace from start to finish.
Finally, you can embrace God’s grace daily by sharing with others what God has done for you. As one old preacher used to say, “I’m just one beggar telling another beggar where he got some bread.” When you share with others how God has poured His grace and forgiveness into your life, you glorify God and put His grace on display for all to see (Ephesians 1.6 ESV).
Written by Craig Etheredge
This blog is an excerpt that comes from our book Walk with God, which you can purchase here.