I burn grace. I mean I burn a lot of grace! Sound a bit odd? Yea, same here when I first started thinking about grace this week.
Growing up, I remember my Dad having a Ford Bronco. I don’t think they made them too long. Their shape and build made them more susceptible to rolling than most other vehicles. Another contributing factor might have been the fuel economy that they wonderfully (insert sarcasm here) gave their drivers. Are you ready for this…
About 10 miles per gallon.
I’d say they burned a lot of fuel and required frequent fill ups.
With that in mind, I’d like to restate my opening sentence…I burn grace like a Ford Bronco burns fuel.
There…that aptly describes what I’m after.
Now you have to understand where I am at on this. Grace, from what I understand, is not just something we receive at the point of salvation. Yes, grace is that undeserved acceptance and gift received from God when we were still sinners. But that doesn’t mean I stop needing it.
If you could measure grace, I would have to say that I likely burn more grace than a hundred people finding salvation.
But I don’t think you can really measure grace, but if you could, that’s where I’d be.
Grace is such a central term when we examine the relationship between us and God. In fact the relationship begins with grace. Grace was manifested through Jesus Christ. He was the physical representation of grace, through his life, death, and resurrection.
So what does it mean to say that I burn grace? I think it’s a great question to explore!
When I say burn grace, I am referring to the daily activity of participating in the work that God is already doing in my world, both inside me and through me. I guess I can’t speak for everyone, but I need God’s grace to help me do both. I could go further and say that without His grace, I am worthless.
This is speaking of grace beyond the crisis moment of salvation. This is living empowered by grace — the undeserved provision of God to be patient, to abide, to love, to be joyful, to protect peace, to show kindness. Sound familiar? Take a look in Galatians. You’ll find it!
I cannot love my family like I am supposed to without grace. I cannot do my job without grace. God definitely knows I am not the most patient of all people! I need grace to be patient. I might be loving and able to be show kindness and empathy, but neither are worth anything if they are not fueled by grace.
Here it is…I can do all the right things, but it is grace that activates, making them come alive and effective!
Paul of all people knew this so well! I relate to Paul so much! Not in his intellect, mind you. I’m not that full of myself! No, I relate to Paul in his openness…his brokenness…to how much he was able to speak so plainly about his own fallenness and reliance upon God’s grace. In 1 Timothy he writes that,
1Tim. 1:12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service,
1Tim. 1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;
1Tim. 1:14 and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus.
1Tim. 1:15 It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.
1Tim. 1:16 Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
The foremost of sinners. That’s quite the title that Paul gives himself. The word foremost moves our thoughts along being first or out in front. It’s as if Paul is saying I am the number one public sinner! I’m the worst of them all! No, he didn’t have a low self esteem…he had a high view of the grace of God in his life!
I don’t know about you, but to me, knowing that Paul, the foremost of sinners, is in heaven right now, is quite encouraging to me. But Paul takes no credit for it whatsoever! It’s grace! I’d say he burned a lot of grace!
But it was less about his conversion and more about how he lived in grace and how he let God use him through grace! Check out verse 16! It’s for the reason of verse 15 that Paul found mercy so that Jesus Christ, who was now foremost in Paul’s life, might be able to show off Jesus as an example to others! It was His grace that fueled Paul, that kept Paul moving forward, that powered Paul’s tenacity and passion! Grace enabled Paul to be patient and faithful, to be strong when needed, but gentle when it counted!
It was grace that made Paul who he was…even as a the foremost of sinners! That is amazing grace!
It is that kind of grace that is the mark of a believer’s life! You and I are not called to receive grace only to keep it to ourselves nor are we only to fill up on it once. The grace given to us is to work itself out of our lives, through every pore, through every avenue that we take, into every other person that we see.
That is our mission!
That is our participating in the work that God is actively doing around us! That is our being missional! That is reaching the lost, meeting people at their greatest need! Grace is fuel for the mission!
See why I burn so much grace! I can’t join God in His work without grace! It is grace that takes my human efforts and makes them something exceedingly better!
What if…What if we burned grace like Paul? What if we saw those around us as our mission field where we burn through grace so that we can meet people at their greatest needs? How would your world be different if you burned grace like that? How would you serve the other person if you burned grace like that? Would you reach across the aisle to meet another soul in need?
It is God’s gift to you and I. We don’t deserve it and we aren’t to keep it. We are to allow His Amazing Grace to fuel us as we participate in God’s work of changing the world around us.
So yea, I burn a lot of grace…I have to! I can’t live without it! So I join with Paul in saying I am foremost of sinners, but I also join with Paul and saying as a result of that grace, I discovered a great mercy and love that I want others to experience! I want Christ to demonstrate himself through my life so that others will believe!
Will you join me?