Grace That's Not (Just) for Me

"Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly."  Ephesians 3:2-3

I don't even remotely comprehend grace.

I understand some of it's implications and benefits though.  God's grace in saving me when I was dead in my transgressions and sins (Eph.2:1-10).  God's grace in the way He condescends to speak to me in ways that I can understand.  God's grace in the way that He disciplines me (ever thought about that?  How does God treat us with such love, compassion, and graciousness when we do the stupid things we are sometimes apt to do?  You would think that at some point He would "accidentally" blow our head off of our shoulders with one small leak of Almighty power.....yet, He doesn' least not yet).  There is no end to discussing His grace in our lives because every expression of who we are is an expression of His grace.  Our possessions, relationships, freedom, mind, bodies, vocations, skill-sets, etc. are all expressions of His grace.  Really, we could talk endlessly about His grace.

What happens when we talk about grace is that we focus the primary attention on how God's grace has impacted us personally.  There is everything right and good about this - it testifies to the glory of God when we talk about the expressions of His grace in our lives.  I think it is a pleasant sound to God when His children speak in awed tones about His indescribable grace.

But there is another aspect to grace that is equally magnificent.  It is the reality that God gives us grace for others.

In Paul's case, he noted that the mystery of the revelation of what God was doing in and through this newly birthed "Church" was actually grace given to Paul for others to receive benefit.  I wonder if what held true for Paul holds true for us - that God gives us grace at times that is not primarily for us; instead, it is for service to others.

It seems like that holds true when we talk about spiritual gifts (where the root word for gifts, "charis", means "grace").  Paul said that we have been given gifts of grace that are for the common good (note 1 Corinthians 12:7).  It also holds true when God shows us the grace of comfort after we have been through a particularly difficult experience or tragedy.  Though that grace was for us in our time of need (thankfully), it is also intended for those who will need it in the future (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).  How about the grace of God in His material provision for us (like money)?  Well, Paul tells his protege Timothy that he should command those rich in this present world to share with those in need and live generously and full of grace (note 1 Timothy 6:17-19).  In other words, the grace God gives us isn't just for us - it is also for others.

This truth really spoke to me this morning as I was reading Ephesians 3.  And I guess the reason it resonated so loudly was because it was a sound that I have grown to know and love through the years.....the sound of the voice of Jesus (the One, according to John 1:14, Who is full of grace and truth).  He modeled what it looked like to embody grace, and then to give it away to others like me and you.

The cross is proof enough.