I want to talk about how grace leads to a godly lifestyle. Have you ever watched Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? I love it when the family finally sees their new home. I don’t know if you’ve had the chance to notice how some of the people react. On a couple occasions the father would break down and say through tears, “Thank you! I am going to be a better man!”
There is something very deep and genuine that happens in our hearts when we have been shown exceptional kindness. It’s a kindness that makes you want to go and make someone else happy, go out of your way for someone else, or be “a better man.” Can you recall a time in your life when someone showed you exceptional kindness? Do you recall how you felt?
Perhaps some awe? Gratefulness? Peace and joy? Renewed hope and spirit? Love? A passion to return the favor or to believe in the good in man? Did it create a new admiration for that person?
I’m guessing that you probably didn’t take that kindness as a means to promote a negative lifestyle. If the bank cancelled your debt, did that make you want to go and teach that debt is a good thing? Most likely not! In fact, I would have expected you to want to return the favor to the bank somehow. Jesus says it like this.
Luke 7:41-47 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
When we get a grasp on the grace of God and receive the freedom to be in awe of his kindness, our hearts will go through a similar transformation like this woman. A true understanding of grace does not lead to a licentious life of sin, such people have never understood grace. Grace becomes the seed that begets love for God. Gratefulness is the motivation of New Covenant works. New Covenant works are not another law that will earn us God’s kindness, it is a response to God’s kindness springing from a heart overflowing with gratitude. That is why I and others preach grace so passionately. We want to see people overflowing with with thankfulness for what God has done for them and to see their lives be full of joy and peace and good works done cheerfully not just from compulsion. Sometimes the way we teach about God’s grace, we limit and blind ourselves to how good it really is. That’s why it’s important not to be mixing in the old covenant with the glory of the new. Without a whole New Covenant, we are left with people who are incredibly blessed, but don’t know it, aren’t grateful, and don’t really have the motivation to love others unconditionally.
So let’s think about the kindness that the Lord wants to show us, and not add any “if’s” onto it. I wouldn’t have expected those families on Extreme Makeover to have felt so loved if there was doubt that the house wouldn’t be theirs. Let’s not let the lies of the enemy and this world distract us from seeing just how much hope, life, kindness, and love we can really experience. This week, let God amaze you with his kindness.