Overflowing Grace - Encouragement Café - August 30, 2017

Overflowing Grace
By Beth Mabe Gianopulos

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

“For it is by graceyou have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:8-10 NIV

Growing up in church, I memorized Ephesians 2:8-10 and similar scriptures.  I was a champion at sword drills, and I could recite multiple passages that discussed how salvation is a gift received through grace. Yet, in my heart, even today, I often live as if my works are required for my salvation. 

I don’t mean to do it, but in my heart, I cannot comprehend a gift that is truly “free,” with no strings attached.  Because I can’t comprehend a gift that is freely given through grace, I treat my relationship with God like a transaction.  I subconsciously keep a running tally of all the good works that I have done.

Then, when hard times strike I want to cash in my good deeds in exchange for not feeling pain or dealing with sadness.  Too often, I have found myself crying out to God, “How could this happen to me?  I have worked so hard to serve you!” 

I also keep a running list (it is much longer than the good deeds list) of my sins. I sometimes dwell on every failure.  When I focus on my shortcomings, I know in my head that I am saved through grace.

Yet, in my heart, I still feel distant from God.  When tragedy strikes my first impulse is to think, “God is punishing me because of the times that I have failed.” 

In Ephesians, Paul reminds us that “it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.”  Paul is clear that we did nothing to earn this salvation, but instead, it is a “gift of God.”  Ephesians 2:8

Paul also reminds us that we are God’s handiwork.  We are not mistakes.  We are not problems that need to be fixed.  God created us and loves us.  God doesn’t weigh our worth based on what we do or do not do.  Instead, God simply loves us because we are who he created us to be.

Too often, we use our failures as an excuse not to serve God.  We tell ourselves that God cannot use us because we have sinned.  We convince ourselves that we have not done enough good works to be used by God. 

However, Paul is clear that, “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do.” 

We need to get to work!  We cannot hide behind our past failures because we have all sinned, and it is not our works that save us, but God’s generous and overflowing grace. 

Do you struggle to accept grace? Do you hide behind past failures as an excuse not to step out and do the work God has called you to do?  If so, pray that God will help you receive the gift of grace. 

Jesus, Thank You for your generous grace.  Thank You for loving us despite our failures.  Show us the work that You have prepared for us to do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

© 2017 by Beth Mabe Gianopulos.  All rights reserved.

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Originally published Wednesday, 30 August 2017.