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Pointers along the way #102

Receiving grace
- Jacob Ninan

In one sense, everyone receives grace from God as an unmerited favour from Him. That is because God is so good, and gracious. He gives many good things for both good and wicked people (Mt.5:45). And no one on earth receives the wrath of God as much as he or she deserves. Yet grace is more than this. It includes everything that God would like to give us - material and spiritual blessings, wisdom and strength for all situations, the power that transforms our lives, fellowship with God and His children, etc. Actually we know only such a small part about all that He has prepared for us (1Co.2:9).

Why is it that we receive so little of all that He has prepared for us? In simple words, because we don't approach Him in the right way. The 'right way' involves many factors. But let us look at a couple of important ones.

There was a 'gentile' (non-Jewish) woman who asked Jesus to cast a demon out from her daughter. Jesus tested her a bit by telling her that such blessings were basically for the 'children' (the Jews) and not for 'dogs' (the Gentiles). Her reply was that even the dogs could get the crumbs that fell from the children's table. Jesus was astonished at her faith (Mt.15:22-28).

Another time a Roman centurion requested Jesus to heal his servant. He told Jesus that he was not worthy for Jesus to go to his house but that a mere word from Jesus would be sufficient to heal the servant. This was another time when Jesus praised a man for his faith (Mt.8:5-10).

Two things stand out in both these examples. Both people readily admitted that they did not deserve that Jesus should do anything for them. And both believed that Jesus could do miracles for them.

Aren't these qualities or attitudes what we need to receive the things that God has kept ready for us? The first attitude recognises that it is gracious of God to be good to us, and the second trusts in His power to grant us what we need even through miracles.

On the other hand, what blocks the grace of God from coming down to us? The first factor is an attitude that thinks that God ought to take care of us, it is His duty to do so, we deserve to be treated better, etc. The second wrong attitude is to consider that God couldn't be bothered with us, He is indifferent towards our needs, or that He can't do anything for our problems.

How we can limit God by our pride and unbelief! Our proud stance not only prevents God from doing for us what He wants to, but also causes Him to actually oppose us (Jas.4:6). Of course we know that without faith it is impossible to receive anything from God, even when He longs to grant us many good things (Jas.1:6,7;Lk.12:28).

Humility and faith open us towards God, and then He is able to pour out His blessings upon us without measure. Let us learn to have an attitude like the above two people whom Jesus praised.