I’m so glad it’s finally March. Why, you ask? Because it’s a new budget cycle. You see, Joannie and I have a monthly budget where we allot a certain amount of money for giving, groceries, gas, bills, personal expenditures, entertainment, and miscellaneous expenses. By the end of the month our spending budget is slimmer than a shoestring French fry on hydroxycut. As a result, I have to wait until the first of the month to go back to Starbucks, buy some more milk for my Fruitloops, and have a breakfast date with my wife (which we did yesterday morning J).
This budget thing got my wheels turning this morning. What if God gave us a grace budget each month? How soon would we spend through that budget? Sixty-minutes? One day? A week? Could we make it a whole month? Just think about the amount of grace that would need to be available in the account to cover our dirty minds; to cover the times when we act under the influence of selfish pretenses; to cover when we yell at our children for not flushing the toilet; to cover our greediness when we fail to be generous; to cover the California howdy that we give our fellow traveler that cuts us off in rush hour traffic; to cover our self-glorifying good deeds; and to cover the countless times we fail to give thanks, to give praise to the King of Glory. I’m sure you get the picture.
If there was such thing as a grace budget, I’m sure we would all agree that it would need to be extravagantly substantial to cover all our faults and failures, and sins of omission and commission. Great news, there’s no such thing as a grace budget. In fact, the Bible teaches that those who confess their sin and place their faith in Christ as Lord (King) and Savior are forgiven of their past, their present, and their future faults and failures, and sins of omission and commission. In other words, their sin-debt has been paid in full, and they—through the deposit of the Spirit—have been bestowed a never-ending budget of grace. I love the way John puts it, “For from his (Jesus’) fullness we have all received, grace upon grace” (John 1:16).
It is because of Jesus we have a stockpile of grace!
In light of Jesus’ never-ending, everlasting, overflowing, and extravagantly abundant account of grace that he has provided us, how should our lives be impacted?
1. We should live in light of grace. Paul states in his theological treatise (which is Romans), “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom 6:1–2). In the context, Paul explains how the law exposes and increases sin, but grace comes in, and in abundance trumps law. Paul understood that some might understand the marvelous and extravagant presence of grace as a license to continue to sin, to continue living any way they wanted to.
However, that is not at all what the presence of grace does in one’s life.
Those who understand the measure and meaning of grace realize that grace transforms and serves as another law by which people live.
As a result, rather than living by the law of Moses that served as a means to expose and increase sin, Jesus’ grace serves as a means to forgive sin and incite a life of sanctification—a life that, through grace and the power of the Spirit, is [being] transformed into the image of Jesus.
Understanding that we have been saved by grace, and are being sustained and sanctified by a relentless and never-ending account of divine grace, we live a faithful life that exuberates—in every area —a gratefulness and thankfulness to our gracious King. Thus, no matter how much month or how little month is left, God’s abundant grace is readily available to encourage us and exhort us onward in faithful obedience.
2. We should show others the grace that has been shown us. In other words, we should provide the same type of grace account to others that Jesus has provided us. Think about it; the same unmerited favor and love shown us—stinky, slimy, sinners of planet earth—is the same kind of favor and love we should show others.
I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking the same thing: “I’m not Jesus!” I get it. It’s hard to show grace to others—especially those who wrong and hurt us, to those who annoy and disturb us, to those who disregard and dismiss us, to those who are mean and hateful, and to those who are different and unlike us. Yet, in showing these people unmerited favor and unconditional love we image Jesus. For it was Jesus who showed us—people who had wronged, hurt, annoyed, disturbed, disregarded, dismissed, and who were completely different and unlike him—grace!
I believe what Paul wrote in Ephesians 3 is helpful for us here. He writes,
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. . . . Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. . . . To me…this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
Paul basically explains that God showed him (who according to himself was the chief of all sinners) grace so that he can share and show grace to others, especially Gentiles! We know through the New Testament that Paul’s grace account towards others never ran dry. He persisted, even in much suffering and pain, to share and show God’s amazing grace. Paul’s persistence in being a geyser of grace to others finds it origin in the never-ending spring of God’s amazing grace that had been shown him.
You may be reading this and going through a tough time. Maybe you feel as though you haven’t been yourself. Maybe you feel as though you’ve been short with others—your spouse, your children, or possibly your co-workers. Maybe you haven’t been as giving or generous as you would like. Or maybe you are struggling with a sin, an addiction. And your struggles have left you pretty flat, downcast, and frustrated with yourself. What you really need now is to know that there’s some extra grace in your account!
In God’s economy, grace is abundant and always available.
So, withdraw some grace and apply it to your life. But remember, don’t apply it so that you can go right back to the pattern of living that robs you of the joy of God’s grace.
Some may be reading this and realize that your grace budget for others isn’t where it needs to be—it isn’t imaging Jesus’ grace account for you. In fact, there may be someone that you are having a difficult time showing any grace because they already (from your perspective) emptied the grace account. And what you need today is a little reminder of Christ’s grace account for you. Is it painful? Absolutely. Is it humbling? Totally. Is it worth it? Let me ask you a question back: Was Christ’s display of grace to you worth it? Of course it was.
I can speak from my own life and say that I am extremely grateful that God’s budget of grace never fails, never runs out, and is always readily available—24/7/365 days a year. So while my financial budget may struggle at the end of the month, I know that “through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come. Tis grace has brought me safe thus far and grace will lead me home.” And this same grace that is readily available for me is the same grace I need to make readily available to others.