Friday, September 19, 2008

Not so Gracious

I was disappointed when I went to an online dictionary with the word gracious. The thing that disappointed me was there wasn't a definition that said "full of grace." As a matter of fact, the word grace didn't appear anywhere in the definition of gracious. Not full of grace, not having grace, not even from grace. Apparently you don't need to have grace to be gracious.

So what is up with "grace?"

I just finished reading the book What's So Amazing About Grace by Philip Yancy. I have to say that sadly I agree with most of Yancy's commentary about the rampant ungrace among Christians today. If you are a Christian or a non-believer that has been treated badly or judged by me or one of my fellow believers, I can only ask for your grace and forgiveness--even though you may not have received that from us.

The book is a real eye opener to the value that God has given to us. In spite of the fact that we are so unworthy of His attention and love, He has chosen to love us anyway. Even though we are mean and self centered, He forgives us, loves us--and we still are self centered! We only think of the grace that has been given to us and rarely make the effort to bestow grace freely on others. Yancy reminds us that when we show grace to others, it demonstrates our love for God.

My favorite quote from the book is:
"There is nothing we can do to make God love us more.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us less."

God's love for us is completely unconditional. One might ask, "If I can't do anything to make God love me less, then why wouldn't I just do whatever I want? Right or wrong, God will love me the same. Right?"

The short answer is--That's right. The problem is that it's the wrong question. We don't do the right thing to change how God loves us; we do the right thing to show how we love God. If you don't love God, then I guess it doesn't matter if you try to obey Him. However, Jesus tells us, "If you love me, you will obey me."

Now the question is--Do we have a problem with obedience or is it a problem of love? Perhaps we have so undervalued the grace of God that we haven't taken the time to study His commands and so we don't know what we are to obey. I'd have to say that's a pretty weak excuse--and a love problem. For myself, I'm going to have to start being more gracious. Hopefully that will help me to demonstrate that I love my God and will help others to see that my God loves them.


By the way, if you feel like wasting away the better part of an hour, you can go here to hear my sermon from last Sunday.


Mike said...

How far down did you go in the definitions?

1. Abounding in grace or mercy; manifesting love,. or bestowing mercy; characterized by grace; beneficent; merciful; disposed to show kindness or favor; condescending; as, his most gracious majesty.

John said...

Obviously, I didn't make it to the fifth dictionary referenced--good old Webster,s.


What a beautiful quote. It made me feel good somehow and brought tears to my eyes. Maybe b/c sometimes I feel like the things I do will make him love me less. It was very consoling. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

"There is nothing we can do to make God love us more.
There is nothing we can do to make God love us less."

Oddly, we atheists agree with this. :)