Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 New International Version (NIV)
Well folks, this is my first attempt at writing an engaging and enlightening blog article! I hope you enjoy it enough to come back again! God willing, this blog will cover many themes, issues, and topics, including spiritual, humorous, entertainment, educational, peculiar, extraordinary, creative art, philosophical, and political. My aim is to prompt thoughtful contemplation, reflection, searching, seeking, laughing, learning, deep thinking, and wise decision making.
So, what is the topic of today’s blog, you ask? Well, let me tell you, it’s far more difficult than you might think, trying to come up with something interesting to write about. However, since I feel spiritually prompted to write about God’s loving discipline and amazing grace today, that is where I’ll begin.
What, exactly, do we mean by God’s amazing grace? According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of grace includes all of the following terms:
1. “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
2. “a virtue coming from God.”
3. “a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine assistance.”
4. “APPROVAL, FAVOR, MERCY, PARDON.”
5. “a special favor: PRIVILEGE.”
6. “disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.”
7. “a temporary exemption: REPRIEVE.”
That is an excellent and very vivid description of God’s amazing grace as He has made available to all humanity. It leaves virtually no aspect of God’s amazing grace undefined, and serves as divine encouragement and inspiration for all believers and seekers.
For the sake of simplicity, I would like to sum up God’s amazing grace in just two of the above descriptive terms: unmerited favor. What this means is that God’s amazing grace is a gift that cannot be earned or bought, but is freely given by the Father, to all believers, and, in many cases, even to unbelievers, whether they realize it and appreciate it, or not. In our human relationships, we might identify with this sort of grace as to our unconditional love for our own children, in that we provide for their needs and give them good things not as reward for anything they have done, but simply because we love them unconditionally, just as the Father loves us all.
Unmerited favor. It would be tempting to conclude that, if God is so full of this amazing grace, He should be willing to always clean up our sin messes, so that we would never experience the consequences for our own actions. But that isn’t how grace works. Of course, God always retains the option to intervene at any time, but He usually allows us to experience the consequences of our sins, in some measure at least, for the same reasons we punish our own children for their bad behavior. God disciplines us to help us grow in our relationships with Him, and in our knowledge and obedience to His will and His ways. Just like we discipline our own children, God disciplines us because He truly loves us, not because He wants to make us suffer. (See Deuteronomy 8:5, Proverbs 3:12, Proverbs 13:24, Hebrews 12:7, Hebrews 12:11, and Revelation 3:19; Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+8%3A5%2C+Proverbs+3%3A12%2C+13%3A24%2C+Hebrews+12%3A7%2C+11%2C+Revelation+3%3A19&version=NIV).
God’s Word refers to His loving discipline so many times that it is virtually impossible to adequately discuss God’s amazing grace without mentioning His loving discipline. So now, let’s briefly discuss how God’s amazing grace (unmerited favor) tempers His loving discipline to make it bearable for us. If God didn’t love us, and didn’t extend to us His unmerited favor, we could never withstand the fullness of His wrath that we deserve for our sins. As recorded in the Old Testament, the prophet Jeremiah prayed, “Discipline me, Lord, but only in due measure – not in your anger, or you will reduce me to nothing.” (Jeremiah 10:24). And, a few chapters later, in Jeremiah 30:11, we find God’s response to Jeremiah:
“I am with you and will save you,”
declares the Lord.
“Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only in due measure;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished.”
The subsequent passages in Jeremiah 30:12-22 go on to describe more specifically how God is going to discipline His people Israel, but then ultimately heal their wounds and restore their fortunes, draw them closer to Him, and punish their enemies. All of this serves as a shining example of God’s unmerited favor (amazing grace) toward his people Israel. (Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+10%3A24%2C+30%3A11-22&version=NIV).
Just as God’s loving discipline is mentioned many times throughout scripture, so is His amazing grace just as many times, and even more so. God’s grace is brought up a handful of times in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament, after the birth of Jesus, God’s amazing grace is referred to so many times that it is readily apparent God wants His children to be intimately familiar with His grace, and to fully experience the blessings brought about by it. (Source: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=grace&qs_version=NIV).
So what does all this mean to you and me? Well, to put it simply, it means the same amazing grace (unmerited favor) that was extended to believers on so many occasions throughout scripture, is also available to all the rest of us, whenever we put our trust in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, who, being full of grace Himself, voluntarily gave His own life to spare us from the torment of God’s eternal wrath. It means that, although God often gives us the loving discipline we need, along with it, He gives us the strength to cope, and He rarely gives us the full punishment we deserve. What could be more encouraging than this?