Full of Grace

Connecting Points

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Today’s Topic:  Filled with Grace

Today’s Text: Stephen (a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit)…Stephen, a man full of God’s grace and power… Acts 6:5a and 8a 

“We cannot be filled without the very real experience of that with which we are filled.”

I have a favorite beverage I drink at supper. It is healthy, sugar free, and tastes great. It comes in a small packet filled with just enough powder to mix with a 16.9 ounce water bottle. I mix it in a tall glass. It changes the color of the water from being crystal clear to deep red. Most of the time, much to the frustration of my wife, a small amount of the powder falls on the countertop. It is almost invisible while dry. But when I wipe the counter with a wet paper towel, everything turns red – the paper towel, the counter top, and my fingers.

“We cannot be filled without the very real experience of that with which we are filled.”

Being filled with grace is only possible if we have truly experienced grace. Grace is defined as “unmerited favor.” Grace is an undeserved gift. Think deeply and clearly about this – it is a gift that is completely, irrefutably undeserved. There is absolutely nothing that makes it a reward for any action or value. It cannot be earned. Absolutely everything about the recipient is contrary to the very nature and character of the gift. Unless we understand that, and have experienced that, we cannot be filled with it, which means we have no such gift to give to others.

Recently a convict, who has just finished his term of penal servitude, applies for a job as a night watchman at a jewelry store. With all his heart he wishes to lead an honest life. He hides his past from the potential employer. He is hired. He has full access to the store through the quiet hours of the night when he has everything under his care and every opportunity to rob his employer. On the first evening, he meets one of his old companions, who questions him, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m the night watchman.”

“Over this jeweler’s shop?”

“Yes.”

“Does he know what you are?”

“No, keep quiet; if he knew, I should be dismissed.”

“Suppose I let it out that you are a returned convict!”

“Oh, please don’t; it would be my last day here, and I wish to be honest.”

“Well, you have to give me some money to keep quiet.”

“Very well, but don’t let anyone know.”

This man still has his job, but he lives in constant fear of being found out, because he does not know that his past can be forgiven.

Let’s change the story hypothetically. Let us suppose that instead of the employer hiring the man in ignorance of his character, he chose instead to go to the prison and visit the man in his cell. He then said to the convict prior to his release, “Now I know you—what you are, what you’ve done, every robbery you’ve committed, but I am about to give you a chance of becoming honest. I’ll trust you as my night watchman over my valuable goods.” When he is released from prison, the convict is faithful at his post. He meets an old companion who threatens to inform his employer about his past. The guard asks, “And what will you tell about me?”

“That you were the ringleader of thieves.”

“Yes, but my master knows all that; he knows me better than I know myself. Yet he forgave me of my past and gave me this post as a gift, and I intend to be faithful to him.

Of course, this silences his companion forever.

The real reason more grace isn’t seen in people’s lives is that they are still thinking about themselves from a position of pride and self-worth. Only when we become truly broken in spirit and recognize that we are totally and irrefutably empty of anything that demands God’s recognition will we experience true grace. Then, and only then, will Jesus Christ visit us in the prison of worthlessness and offer us the gift of eternal life. Jesus Christ is the only Master who is “full of grace and truth.” Jesus Christ is gracious to you and me because He knows the truth about us, that we deserve nothing but hell. But through His grace heaven can be our share, if we personally and by faith appropriate His grace. And once we understand His grace, we too will be filled with grace towards others.

Pastor John

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