If you asked me to try to describe God in two words or less I would do it this way: “Grace. Period.” If you asked me to try to describe the average Christian in two words or less I would do it this way: “Grace period.”
Let me explain.
When you think about God, all that He is and does, you can sum it up in two words: “Grace. Period.” That’s it. And yes, it’s that simple. Peter referred to Him as “the God of all grace ...” (1 Peter 5:10), and that’s exactly Who He is and what He does.
Think about it.
When you think about creation, the beginning of the world, can you think of a better way to describe it than “Grace. Period.”?
When you consider God’s dealing with Adam, in the garden, giving him a beautiful wife like Eve, wouldn’t you say that was “Grace. Period.”?
How about when they disobeyed God and sinned? How did God respond? What did He do? How was He going to handle this one? You could say God’s response was “Grace. Period.”
What about Noah and the ark? Again, “Grace. Period.” How about God’s dealings with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? “Grace. Period.”
And Joseph? “Grace. Period.”
What about Joseph’s brothers? That’s got to be “Grace. Period.”
Moses? I’d have to say, “Grace. Period.” And what about the Israelites? If that’s not “Grace. Period.” I don’t know what is.
Come to think of it, when you consider Gideon, Samson, David, the prophets, the entire Old Testament, it’s all a story of “Grace. Period.”
So is the New Testament.
Think about it. Jesus coming to earth. The Master in a manger. Mary. Joseph. The “No Vacancy” sign in the innkeeper’s window. The stable. The cows. The smell. The hay. This was one birth no one would ever forget. The shepherds. The angels. The wisemen. Call it whatever you want. I’d call it: “Grace. Period.”
But the story doesn't end there. What about everything else Jesus did. His whole life and ministry can be summed up in two words: “Grace. Period.”
How would you describe His interaction with the woman at the well in John 4, or the woman caught in the act of adultery in John 8? I think “Grace. Period.” sums it up pretty good, don’t you?
What about the men He chose as His disciples? How did He respond when they messed up BIG TIME and did the exact opposite of what He’d just taught them? “Grace. Period.”
What about all the people He taught and fed? The multitudes He healed? “Grace. Period.”
What about JESUS’ death on the cross? Have you ever tried to describe His crucifixion and felt it was an impossible task, because words can’t possibly or accurately portray what really happened that night? The events of that entire weekend made our salvation possible. Can you picture it? Let me help you. It was “Grace. Period.”
That's why Paul told the Ephesian Christians TWICE: “It is by GRACE you have been saved ...” (Ephesians 2:5b and 2:8a).
Think about it. In all of God’s dealings, throughout the history of man, continuing today, He has always responded in the same way: “Grace. Period.” That’s Who He is and what He does. It’s always “Grace. Period.” Nothing more. Nothing less and nothing else.
Now here’s my question: Why is it that those of us who are the unqualified yet, unmistakably undeserving recipients of “Grace. Period.” are so reluctant to extend that same grace to others? We’re more than willing to extend grace to others. We just wait to extend it until after a “grace period” of our own making.
It strikes me as more than tragic that far too often, we who are the forgiven are so slow to extend forgiveness to others. More often than not we’re like the unmerciful servant in Matthew 18 who received incredible grace and mercy and then, extended the exact opposite to others. (For the record, that same unmerciful servant had an unexpected surprise visit from his master that resulted in his surrealistic undoing.)
What should our response be to others? Family. Friends. Fellow church members. Neighbors. Work associates. People we don't even know or people we don’t even like? Shouldn’t the response always be the same ... as God’s? “Grace. Period?”
“But you don’t know what they did to me.” It doesn’t matter. “Grace. Period.”
“You don’t understand. They don’t deserve grace.” Neither did you. “Grace. Period.”
“I’ve been hurt too much to give someone so undeserving, grace.” Really? What if God said that to you? He still could, you know. Better give them “Grace. Period.”
“Well, they’ll need to prove themselves first. Then I’ll forgive them.” No. You’ve got it backwards. God doesn’t do that with you and you’re not going to get away with doing it to others.
It’s not a “grace period” you’re to extend to others. It’s: “Grace. Period.”
Two words ought to describe every child of God, every follower of Christ: “Grace. Period.”
When they do ... we’ll change the world.
© 2013. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.