Abounding Grace (4)
Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 2 Thessalonians 2.16, 17
A grace summary
Our text provides an excellent summary of the nature of grace and of how it abounds to us within the framework of grace God has established.
We said that grace is a disposition of God toward us, an attitude of the divine heart by which He looks upon us with favor, compassion, mercy, and love. Paul notes this here by saying that God the Father and our Lord Jesus “loved us”.
But this disposition is of no value to us unless God communicates it to us, unless He tells us of His love, and of all the benefits that attend to that, all of which are comprised in our Lord Jesus and the work He has done for our salvation. As God, by His Word and Spirit, communicates His love to us, we are overwhelmed with “everlasting consolation and good hope”.
But grace goes beyond even that. Grace infuses courage to our hearts, the effect of which is to move us to action “in every good word and work”. Grace abounding in faith and love thus comes to clear and ever-increasing expression in our daily lives. Grace abounding to us, within the framework of God’s covenant and Kingdom and Church, becomes grace abounding through us, touching others by words and deeds and pointing them to Him Who is the Source and Power for good works.
I’m merely trying to refine our focus here, so that as grace abounds to more faith, assurance, and consolation in our soul, and begins to flow through us unto good works of love, we’re not thinking in abstract terms. The more concretely we can envision and prepare for God’s grace to abound in and through us, the greater is the likelihood of that actually happening.
So let’s look more closely at the words and deeds which are the vehicles by which God’s grace spreads out in the world.
It’s surprising how much the Bible has to say about the way we use our words. Paul says that our speech should always be seasoned with grace (Col. 4.6). That is, the words we speak should be as if they came to those who hear us from God Himself. Such words will be always truthful and loving (Eph. 4.15). They will convey the priorities and perspectives of God’s Word in a gentle and affirming manner. This does not ensure that our words will be received with gratitude; it does go a long way, however, in making sure our words convey the grace of God into our Personal Mission Field.
We want our words to be edifying as well, spoken in a manner, and with such content, as to build others up in Christ and His love (Eph. 4.29). We have to be good listeners to do this well (Jms. 1.19, 20), so that we understand people’s needs, desires, hopes, fears, and aspirations before we try to counsel, advise, or recommend some course of action.
We could say much more about this, but the point is that we must take care with our words and how we use them (Prov. 4.24). Words can be conduits of grace, but they can also clog the flow of grace when they are merely flippant, trivial, criticizing and condemning, demeaning, or merely self-serving. Think of your words as instruments for turning people’s thoughts, desires, and lives toward Jesus. It is quite true, as the hymn has it, that “you’re the only Jesus some will ever see” – or hear. The more our words can be like the very words of Jesus, the more God’s grace will flow through our words to direct attention to Him.
Christians understand that doing good is a calling for which we are to be equipped, ready, and constant (2 Tim. 3.16, 17; Tit. 2.14; 3.8, 14; Eph. 2.10). It is possible, however, that in our minds we have created a category of “good works” that limits rather than facilitates the power of grace. I mean that in our preaching and teaching, we tend to emphasize as good works those things we do either at or through our local church. We teach, or give, or work with the children, or serve at the rescue mission, or go on a short-term mission trip, or help maintain our church’s property. These can certainly be good works; but if we make these the primary good works we are called to do, then we will limit the flow and power of grace, rather than enhance it.
The good works to which we are called are those daily, small, routine gestures, tasks, practices, and disciplines that fill up the time of our life throughout the day. These are the works which are truly like salt and leaven, which, though small, have powerful transforming effects, especially the more consistently they are applied.
Each day affords many opportunities for doing works that can bring the grace of God into our world. We must not overlook nor downplay these everyday works, for these are the frontlines of Kingdom advance in the world. Rather, let us learn what the opportunities of our daily lives requires of us, and let us seek the Lord day by day to establish those works that will honor Him, convey His grace, and advance His Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the world (Ps. 90.16, 17).
What I mean is that we must think, plan, and pray in specific details about our words and works. We must be ever in communication with the Source of grace so that we might speak and do as He would, since He dwells in us, and we have the insights of His Word and the power of His Spirit working for us. All our words and every single one of our deeds can be vehicles of truth, love, hope, and light in a dark and self-centered world. But this will only be so if we prepare well and act in faith and love to allow grace to abound through us in all we say and do.
1. How would you explain grace to a new believer?
2. How can we prepare so that our words and works serve as true and effectual conduits of grace?
3. Who are the people who should expect to benefit from grace abounding through your words and works?
Next Steps – Preparation: How do you prepare each day for good words and good works? Can you think of any way to improve this preparation, so that you can be a more effective agent of grace?
Grace flows from our relationship with Jesus Christ. The better we know Him, the more His grace will do its work in us. Our book, To Know Him, can help you in drawing closer to Jesus and increasing in Him. Order your copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Words and Deeds
- T.M. Moore
- September 27, 2019
Here's where faith and love come to expression.
Abounding Grace (4)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.