Titus 2:11-13 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.
I had been going to stop at two verses but the Japanese doesn’t hit a period until after three, which indicates the Greek probably goes on longer still. Paul was a good one for long sentences! That said, there’s important truth here. This paints a much larger, and rather different, picture of God’s grace than we usually imagine. We tend to think of grace in terms of forgiveness, of “going easy” on someone or something, but this is saying that God’s grace itself teaches us to live lives that don’t need so much forgiveness. This is very much in line with what Peter wrote about someone who doesn’t act like Christ having “forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9) The better we grasp God’s grace, the more holy and obedient we will desire to be. Bonhoeffer wrote about “cheap grace,” and there certainly seem to be a lot of people subscribing to it today. Bonhoeffer knew what it was to pay the price, being hung in a Nazi prison shortly before the end of WWII because he refused to bow to Hitler, but he certainly received a crown of glory on his arrival in heaven. We tend to be too focused on this world’s pleasures and conveniences, to the point that we lose sight of God’s grace and the eternal reward that awaits those who are faithful. We do not serve a vindictive God, but neither do we serve one who can be ignored, which is the same thing as mocking Him. (Galatians 6:7) We cannot approach God’s holiness on our own, either in the sense of becoming holy or of drawing near, which is why we need His grace. Receiving that grace, that holiness must be our goal, that we may have the fellowship with Him for which we were created.
This is a truth I feel the Lord has taken me deeper into over the years. I have discovered that besetting sins lose their grip when we realize and accept that we really are forgiven, and fellowship with God is so sweet as to make everything else pale in comparison. I have discovered those things only by the grace of God, which makes that grace all the more precious to me. As a pastor I deal with people who find that grace unbelievable. That’s true of course of people who have not acknowledged Jesus as Lord, but I find a surprising number of Christians who really can’t believe it either. They believe Jesus died for their sins, but they can’t grasp how that transforms every aspect of their lives. I am to be gentle but persistent, demonstrating God’s grace even as I explain it, so that the lies of the devil may be dispelled and God’s truth set people free, for His glory.
Father, thank You for Your truly amazing grace. Help me be the instrument of grace that You want me to be, so that Your house may be full indeed, for Your pleasure and glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!