Grace Appreciated

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…

– Ephesians 1:3 (ESV)

I’ve been thinking about God’s mercy and grace lately. He doesn’t deal with us the way we deal with those around us. It’s easy to say we prefer grace and mercy to justice until someone steals the car or robs the house… then suddenly we want justice! Sometimes we seek justice when we shouldn’t:

Ibn Saud, king of Saudi Arabia (1932-1953), once had a woman demand the death of a man who had killed her husband. The man had fallen out of a palm tree while picking dates and fell on her husband, fatally injuring him. The woman was persistent and asked for the man’s death, as was her right as a Saudi citizen.

People can be so hard-hearted at times!

Finally the king said, “It is your right to ask for the man’s life; it is my right to say how he should die. The man will be tied to foot of a palm tree. You will climb the tree and fall on him, killing him.” 1

Unlike that woman, God is merciful. David wrote:

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
   nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.

– Psalm 103:8-10 (ESV)

Not only is God merciful, He’s gracious. He doesn’t just forgive sins, He does good to sinners. David also wrote in this psalm about how God heals diseases and satisfies us with good things. That’s how God deals with every one of us.

We think of this kind of grace as a New Testament thing, but this psalm was written a thousand years before Jesus Christ died to save us. It speaks of the eternal gracious character of God.

From the very beginning of human history, God has been good to those who don’t deserve it.

  • God told Adam that the day he ate of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil he would die. However, when Adam ate, an innocent animal died instead. Adam experienced grace instead of justice.
  • When Cain murdered his brother Abel, instead of taking his life, God set a mark on him to protect him 2.
  • After Jacob cheated his older brother Esau out of his birthright and his blessing, God blessed Jacob anyway… for the rest of his life 3.
  • Joseph’s brothers were going to kill him, and instead sold him as a slave into Egypt, but they were not punished 4 – God used that to bring blessing on them. Joseph said:

“… you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, …”

– Genesis 50:18-21 (ESV)

In fact, when you read through the book of Genesis, you’ll find it a rare and special event when God brought sin to justice; there had to be great wickedness for God to take action against it 5. God was even willing to spare all of Sodom if there had been just a few more righteous people in it 6.

When the Bible speaks of God’s grace towards us, it usually speaks of His favor in spite of our sins. He doesn’t just subtract punishment – He adds favor, blessing, good things in abundance. He doesn’t do this because He owes it to us 7. We don’t earn the air we breath or the rain that waters our crops. God doesn’t stop the sun from rising if we have been really bad 8. God is good to the just and the unjust. 9

But because of this, I think Old Testament people took God’s grace for granted just as we tend to do today. Sin wasn’t punished very often, so they probably assumed either what they did wasn’t a big deal, or God wasn’t too holy and righteous.

Let’s look a little closer at the undeserved favor we’ve all received and continue to receive from our heavenly Father, so that we won’t take it for granted, and so that we will increase our awareness and appreciation of the better grace we have received in Christ Jesus.

Unrecognized Grace Before The Law

Those of us who are even slightly acquainted with Old Testament history know how Israel was a complaining and rebellious people. Yet, God didn’t always punish them. Instead He did them good.

I made a list of all of the times Israel sinned from Exodus through Deuteronomy. Do you know what the most common sin was? Complaining. Grumbling. Whining. Here’s the first part of my list: 10

  • As an adult, the first recorded encounter Moses had with his people is in Exodus 2. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. After he made sure nobody was looking, he killed the Egyptian. The next day Moses saw two of his fellow countrymen fighting. He asks one “Why are you fighting your brother?” And he got the response:

… “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” …

– Exodus 2:13-14 (ESV)

It sounds innocent enough. Personally, I would not have considered this a sin, but in Acts 7:23-29,51 Stephen includes this in his list of Israel’s rebellious attitudes against God. At the end of his life, and likely thinking about this incident,Moses said “You have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.11.

  • Pharaoh finds out what Moses has done and seeks his life. So Moses flees to the wilderness. Forty years later, God reveals Himself to Moses in a burning bush. He says He has seen the oppression of His people in Egypt and now He wants to send Moses back to rescue them. But Moses hems and haws: “What shall I say your name is?”, “But, Lord, they won’t believe me”, “But, Lord, I can’t speak well”. Finally in 4:13, he says:

… “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses …

– Exodus 4:13-15 (ESV)

Yet, even though God got angry, nothing came of it. Instead, He showed grace to Moses and allowed Aaron to be his spokesman.

  • God sends Aaron to fetch Moses back to Egypt. When they arrive, they tell their Hebrew brothers God has seen their affliction and is about to free them from slavery. The people worship God for what He is about to do. Then Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh “Let my people go!” Pharaoh is not amused. He says “Who is the Lord that I should obey and let Israel go?” Instead Pharaoh piles more work on the Israelites so they have to gather their own straw to make the same amount of bricks as before. When they can’t fulfill their quota, they are beaten. The elders of Israel turn on Moses and Aaron…

They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; and they said to them, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” Then Moses turned to the LORD and said, “O LORD, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” …

– Exodus 5:20-6:1 (ESV)

The people complained to Moses, and Moses complained to God. But God calmly said:

“Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”

And so it came to pass. God brought a series of plagues, ending with the death of all of Egypt’s firstborn. Then Pharaoh let Israel go.

  • Israel left Egypt and headed for the Red Sea. When they got there, they found themselves blocked in, with the Egyptian army at their heels to bring them back. In Exodus 14:11ff…

They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” … The LORD said to Moses, “Why do you cry to me? …

– Exodus 14:11-16 (ESV)

Can you hear the frustration in God’s voice? But, He didn’t vent His anger on them. Instead, He saved them:

“… Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.”

So Moses obeyed, the waves parted, and the people went across on dry land 12. The Egyptians followed and drowned when the water returned upon them, and then the Israelites celebrated! “Woohoo!!! God really does care about us! He really will protect us and bring us to the promised land!”

  • Three days later, the water ran out, and with it, the manic worship of their God. Back to the same old routine:

And the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” And he cried to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a {tree}, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

– Exodus 15:24-25 (ESV)

The people grumbled again, and for their grumbling, God … provided water. That’s mercy! No… more than that: that’s grace! God didn’t have to put up with their lip, but He did.

  • They travelled a little further and the food ran out… the unleavened Passover bread that they had quickly prepared while in Egypt and brought with them.

And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” …

– Exodus 16:2-4,12 (ESV)

How soon the people forgot what it was like to be a slave in Egypt! How soon they forgot about God’s miraculously providing for their escape across the Red Sea! Like a broken record, they complained again, and what did God do? Did He finally lose His patience with them and strike them down? No.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you…

God showed grace on them again. He provided manna for them. He even provided meat:

…I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God.'”

In the evening God brought quail in to the camp. So, for their grumbling, they were provided with food. They ate and they were satisfied. Mercy and grace again!

  • You would think by now the Israelites would have come to trust in God’s provision and leading, but no. The next time they thirsted, instead of simply asking politely for water, they complained again.

All the congregation of the people of Israel moved on from the wilderness of Sin by stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

God must really have been angry with them. Yet, He still withheld His justice and showed them nothing but mercy and grace. God told Moses to strike a rock, and water came out.

… And he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the quarreling of the people of Israel, and because they tested the LORD by saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

– Exodus 17:1-7 (ESV)

Again, for their complaining, God provided water.

Seven times in a row Israel complained, and God overlooked their sin. Sure, He got angry at times, but never once did He act on His anger. Instead He provided water for their thirst, and manna and quail for their hunger. They experienced the long-suffering grace of God, just as their forefathers had.

However, they didn’t appreciate the grace they had received. All they knew was: if you want something, grumble and complain until you’ll get it! Thirsty? Grumble and complain! Hungry? Want meat? Grumble and complain! That’s how you work God! Grumble and complain!

Crime And Punishment

Let’s continue examining how God dealt with Israel’s sins:

  • (Exodus 32:7-35) The people arrived at Mount Sinai, and Moses went up the mountain to receive the commandments. But when Moses didn’t return for a long time, the people made a golden calf and worshiped it.

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go down, for your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. They have turned aside quickly out of the way that I commanded them. They have made for themselves a golden calf and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!'” And the LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people. Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them, in order that I may make a great nation of you.” …

– Exodus 32:7-10 (ESV)

God really got angry, and this time He was going to wipe them all out and start over with Moses, except Moses interceded for them 13. Never the less, approximately 3000 people died, then God sent an additional plague on them.

  • In Leviticus 10:1-2, God killed two of Aaron’s sons because they offered “strange fire” before the Lord.
  • In Leviticus 24:10-23, God commanded that a young man who blasphemed His name be stoned, which sentence was carried out by the people.

Whoa! That must have been a shock! “I guess God doesn’t like idol worship, strange fire or blasphemy. But we still have free speech! We can still grumble and complain to get what we want! Nothing in the law about that!”

  • In Numbers 11:1, the people complained about their circumstances, and God consumed some of them with fire.
  • In Numbers 11:4-34, the people got tired of manna and had a hankering for meat, fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. They complained and God brought quail into the camp, but “while the meat was yet between their teeth”, God killed many of them with a “very great plague” 14.
  • In Numbers 12:1-15, Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses having taken a black woman as wife, and God’s anger resulted in Miriam getting leprosy. (At Moses’ request, God healed her. This was one of the few times that nobody died for their sin.)
  • In Numbers 13:31-32,14:2,29,35-37, Moses sent 12 men to spy out the land, but 10 of them came back with an evil report – they complained about the good land God was giving them. As a result, the Israelites wandered in the desert for another 38 years, and all of the people who came out of Egypt 20 years old or older died in the wilderness. Oh, and the 10 spies? They died immediately of a plague.
  • In Numbers 14:39-45, after hearing that they would have to wander in the wilderness for a long time, the people wanted to go up and possess the land… without God. But the Amalekites and Canaanites attacked and defeated them.
  • In Numbers 15:32-36, a man gathered sticks on the Sabbath, and God commanded that he be stoned for it. (Sin is serious!)
  • In Numbers 16:1-35, some of the Levites rebelled against Moses and Aaron’s authority, and the ground opened up and swallowed whole families of them, along with 250 men who presumed to take on the priests responsibility of offering incense.
  • This upset many of the people, so in Numbers 16:41-50 they complained, and an additional 14,700 died of the plague.
  • In Numbers 20:2-13, the people complained of thirst again, and Moses got so fed up, he disobeyed God and struck the rock instead of speaking to it. God told Moses “You shall not bring this people into the land I have promised to give them.” Moses, you’re going to die in the wilderness too, just like the rest of the rebels!
  • In Numbers 21:4-9, the people complained again, and God set fiery serpents that bit the people, and many of them died.
  • In Numbers 25:1-9, then some of the people began to fornicate with Moabite women, and worship their gods. 24,000 people died for that.
  • In Numbers 31:1-18, the people did not destroy all of the Midianites at first as God commanded, but before God did anything, Moses angrily commanded it to be done, and it was.

What happened to this gracious and merciful God who brought them out of Egypt? He had ignored their bad attitude so many times before, but now He got angry at every little thing, and people died almost every time! 15 Did God change?

The Covenantal Dividing Line

Of course God hadn’t changed. He was the same God who had led them out of Egypt. And He still loved them and was determined to do them good and fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The reason for the change in how God dealt with His people is given in Exodus 19. Moses had led the people to Mt Sinai where he would receive the Law. At the mountain, a solemn agreement was made that would change their relationship with God:

…Moses went up to God. The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine 16; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the LORD had commanded him. All the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. …

– Exodus 19:3-10 (ESV)

God had rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt and done many good things for them already. Now the Jews were binding themselves to do whatever God told them, no strings attached. The people agreed to obey God.

When they made this agreement, the Law had not yet been given. Perhaps they didn’t know what they were getting themselves in to. So after Moses received the Law from God and delivered it to the people, he gave them an additional opportunity to confirm their covenant:

Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules. And all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do.” … Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”

– Exodus 24:3,7 (ESV)

Under this covenant, the covenant of Law, if the people wanted to live, they had to obey God. They could no longer presume upon grace. No longer was it: if you’re thirsty, grumble and complain; if you’re hungry, grumble and complain. Now it’s “the man which does those things shall live by them.” (Leviticus 18:5, Romans 10:5). 17

Of course, making a promise is one thing, keeping it is another. You can make as many promises as you like, but you will still be the same person. If you were a complainer before, you will be complainer after. The Israelites were no different. They sinned and complained before the covenant and they did so after. However, the results were completely different.

Before the Law, there was life, grace, and blessings. Paul summarized it this way in Romans 5:13:

For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.

– Romans 5:13 (ESV)

After the law, there was fear, bondage, and death. Again, Paul says in Romans 7:9-10:

I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died. The very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me.

– Romans 7:9-10 (ESV)

What a difference the Law made! Aren’t you glad you’re under grace?

The Purpose Of The Law

You may say “Why did God stop being gracious and put Israel under the Law? Things were so much better before the Law.” But things really were not better.

Sure, there were physical benefits: food, water, deliverance from slavery, but God wanted more for them. He wanted to do much better good to them, and He wanted them to live in a way that was pleasing to Him.

Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments, that it might go well with them and with their descendants forever!

– Deuteronomy 5:29 (ESV)

Simply providing for their physical wants and needs wasn’t going to achieve these goals. This kind of grace is only temporal – providing good things only for this earthly life:

  • It does nothing about the cause or effects of sin. God wants to forgive, but the heart-change of repentance is required first, 18 and repentance doesn’t come about through unappreciated grace. Without recognition of the mercy and grace shown to us, temporal grace just enables more sin. Even before the Law we saw how Israel complained more and more.
  • Temporal grace cannot restore us to a right relationship with God: an intimate union with our Creator. Man sees God as a means to satisfy his own desires, but what about God’s desires? Are they to remain unfulfilled? He wants us to be satisfied with Himself, not just the things He provides. He wants us to be like Him, to reflect His character.
  • Temporal grace also can not overcome death, for man still dies in sin (Romans 5:14). All the good that man receives from God while on this earth ends at death. No more favor for all of eternity.

Temporal grace is not good enough. And so, God provided the Law.

Not that the Law was the solution either. It had no effect on the character of the Israelites. But God’s plan was to reconcile man to Himself, and part of that plan was the institution of the Law that would reveal God’s holiness, and drive us to the much better grace found in Christ.

The Law was given to reveal that side of God’s character man was not aware of. Until the Law, nobody had any idea of the requirements of God’s justice, nor how priceless His favor really is.

The Law shows us that things are not all right with ourselves, that we cannot gain acceptance with God on our own merits. It condemns us (Galatians 3:21-22), and once a man is condemned, his only recourse is to plead for mercy.

Effectively, that’s all that the Law does: reveal our own sin. It has no power to stop it. It says “These are the rules” and “This is what to do if the rules are broken”, but it provides no long-term remedy for the heart-condition that is the source for our breaking the rules.

For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

– Romans 3:20 (ESV)

The Better Grace In Christ

Of course, God was not going to leave man under an inadequate system. He told Israel in He would make a new covenant, unlike the old one, that would deal with the inadequecies of living under temporal grace and Law. He said:

… But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

– Jeremiah 31:31-34 (ESV)

Today, whoever puts his trust in Jesus Christ to save him from his sins has come under this new and better covenant. Every time we take communion, we remember Jesus’ words: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” (Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25). It is not a covenant of works such as the one Israel made in Exodus 19, but a covenant of grace where Jesus Christ fulfilled the requirements of the Law for us. He mercifully took our sins on Himself, and He graciously gave us His righteousness.

However, we don’t have a full appreciation of the favor we have gained in Christ. Our minds can’t wrap around it. John said:

And from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

– John 1:16-17 (ESV)

“Grace upon grace!” And he’s not just speaking of food and water, temporal grace that ends with our earthly life. We now have eternal grace and mercy in Christ… grace forever!

  • In Christ we are justified by God’s grace through faith, not works of law. He kept the Law for us so that we are now holy and righteous in God’s sight (Romans 3:22, 4:5, 5:19). We have total forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1:7-8, Acts 10:43, 13:39).

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

– Romans 8:1 (ESV)

While we are disciplined, we have no need to fear punishment or condemnation.

  • In Christ we are graciously kept guarded by God’s power through faith (1 Peter 1:5, John 6:37,39, 10:28). No longer do we have to rely on our own weak and ineffective efforts to keep right with God.

And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.

– John 10:28 (ESV)

  • In Christ we have an advocate in heaven who is much more effective than Moses. Moses interceded for his people and yet some of them still died. Jesus continually intercedes for us, and loses none of them (John 6:39-40), for…

“…He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”

– Hebrews 7:45 (ESV)

I can see Jesus at Father’s right hand not only interceding for my failures but asking for good things: “Father, strengthen Andrew’s faith.” (Luke 22:32) “Father, show Andrew my glory.” “Father, make Andrew one with Us.” (John 17:23,24).

  • In Christ, by grace, we have become children of God, not just servants.

But as many as received him, to them gave he power 19 to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

– John 1:12 (ESV)

We’re adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15). Not only that, but we have become partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). We have been given new life (Romans 7:6). We are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). No longer is it an external observance of the Law, but a new nature because the Law has been written on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

  • By grace we have been sealed with the indwelling Holy Spirit, a guarantee of our salvation (Ephesians 4:30). He guides us, He empowers us, He transforms us into the image of Jesus Christ.
  • In Christ we have bold 24-hour access to the Father’s throne of grace:

…you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”

– Romans 8:15 (ESV)

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

– Hebrews 4:16 (ESV)

  • In Christ we have an eternal inheritance… we are His co-heirs (Ephesians 1:18, Colossians 1:12). We are also a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (1 Peter 2:9), something God said He wanted for Israel (Exodus 19:6). But more than that, eventually we will reign with Christ (2 Timothy 2:12).
  • In Christ we have been blessed with every possible spiritual blessings in the heavenlies (Ephesians 1:3) and we have been granted all things pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

And while we’re still struggling to comprehend these things, God continues to pile on even more grace, so that our minds are overwhelmed trying to take it all in. Plus we still receive temporal benefits: food, water, etc.

All of this is by grace. We’ve earned none of it. Richard Baxter wrote:

…as we paid nothing for God’s eternal love and nothing for the Son of His love, and nothing for His Spirit, and our grace and faith, and nothing for our pardon, so shall we pay nothing for our eternal rest. … What an astonishing thought it will be to think of the unmeasurable difference between our deservings and our receivings; between the state we should have been in, and the state we are in; … O, how free was all this love, and how free is this enjoyed glory … So then, let “Deserved” be written on the floor of hell, but on the door of heaven and life, “The free gift”. 20

We can’t take it all in. But I think we should try anyway.

I’m convinced that the more we know who God is and what He has done for us in spite of ourselves, the more we will love Him, trust Him, and obey Him. We’ll draw closer to Him, and He to us. Jesus put it this way:

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

– Luke 7:41-42 (ESV)

You want to love God more? Seek a better understanding of God’s grace and mercy on your life. Ask Him to open your eyes.

You want a better understanding of God’s grace and mercy in your life? Try showing grace and mercy towards those around you. I’m not just talking about your friends. Forgive those who don’t deserve it. Show grace to your enemies, and do good to them, even when they don’t ask. Again, Jesus said in Luke 6:27-36:

“But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.

Jesus is telling us to do these things because this is how God deals with us.

“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.

– Luke 6:27-36 (ESV)

If you do these things, you’ll have a better understanding of the grace God shows to you. And these are just temporal graces. God gives you so much more! Praise Him! Thank Him! Worship Him!

Notes:

  1. Paraphrased from Bartlett’s Book of Anecdotes.
  2. Genesis 4:15
  3. When I think of God’s grace towards Jacob, I think “His favor lasts a lifetime” (Psalm 30:5).
  4. Deuteronomy 24:7
  5. Full punishment for sin in Genesis: the Flood (6:5-8, 7:21), the destruction of the cities of the plain (18:20, 19:24-25), the deaths of Er and Onan (38:2-10). I don’t consider the confusion of languages at Babel a full punishment for sin because justice was not served (i.e. death – Ezekiel 18:4,20).
  6. Genesis 18:20-33
  7. Job 41:11
  8. Matthew 5:45
  9. Psalm 145:9 (ESV): The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
  10. You might include the Hebrew midwive’s lie (Exodus 1:19) and Moses’ killing of the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) in this list if you choose.
  11. Deuteronomy 9:24
  12. Cf. Psalm 106:7-8
  13. Moses was a type of Christ
  14. And yet, God’s intent was to bring them to the Promised Land where they would be able to eat meat whenever and whereever they wanted (Deuteronomy 12:20-22).
  15. Even some of the circumstances were the same. The people demanded meat in Exodus 16:3-8 and Numbers 11:4-33 and while God provided quail both times, the second time He also executed the lusters. Yet even then, God still showed grace… at Moses’ intercession He didn’t wipe them out, He provided water, He provided the bronze serpent, etc.
  16. In other words, while all the earth is God’s possession, Israel is to be His treasured possession if they obey. This choice to obey or not does not supercede God’s promise to Abraham. It is an additional covenant they are making.
  17. God’s grace did not really cease with the Law, but it became less prominent for a time. It wasn’t until the time of the judges that God began to add grace and mercy to justice (Judges 2:16-19).
  18. Romans 2:3-5, Acts 3:19, 17:30-31
  19. John is not just speaking of becoming a member of God’s family, but of the ability to become like God in character.
  20. Richard Baxter, The Saint’s Everlasting Rest

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