1 Peter 4:10 “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
Grace freely is given.
Saved for any length of time, you have heard the definitions of this beautiful gift from God called grace. But to truly get an appreciation for it, click here to view what Noah Webster used to define this most wonderful treasure from God.
Grace is the most beautiful gift to receive. But as with most things with God, as we have received, so must we give. As I have received salvation, a new life began. I was freed from the bondage of sin and given the gift of eternal life. Now, as a saved child of God, I have been commanded to deliver that same message to the world.
Acts 1:8 “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”
Matthew 28:19-20 “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
What God delivered to me is not only the forgiveness of sins, the righteousness of Jesus Christ, adoption into the family of God, a home in Heaven, eternally secure in my position but also the expectation to be a steward of that gift.
Which begs the question, how am I to be a steward of the grace of God?
It begins with the understanding that grace was given to me so I can give to others.
Matthew 10:8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.”
Even our text this morning tells us:
“…as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”
To hoard such a gift would be selfish. But to minister grace to those around me seems a more difficult task.
What if we do not like the one to whom we are to minister grace?
What if we feel they are undeserving?
What if they have wounded us?
What if they have harmed a loved one or one close to us?
Consider this illustration.
A man comes home to find his son has been murdered in cold blood. He seeks and finds the murderer.
After he finds him, he takes out his gun and kills him.
This is revenge.
After he finds him, he takes him to the authorities, and they throw him in jail to receive the punishment for his crime.
This is justice.
After he finds him, he takes him and tells him he is forgiven and allows him to go free.
This is mercy.
Then, after he finds him, he takes him home, forgives him, sets up a room for him to live, feeds and clothes him, and adopts him as his own son.
This is grace.
As a minister of this grace that we have freely received from God, we cannot give it out selectively or using our filter by which to judge them “worthy” to receive it.
“But you don’t understand what they’ve done!”
You mean like what our sin did to Jesus?
“Does that mean they are allowed to go free without punishment or payment for what they’ve done?”
You mean like our escape from the punishment of eternal damnation and hell?
Grace causes us to go beyond our flesh and human comprehension. It takes us to places whereby it can only be God through us that can accomplish what He asks of us.
Matthew 5:44-45 “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
To leave off giving grace or becoming the minister of grace to which we are called, is to neglect the gift that we are given.
2 Corinthians 6:1 “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.”
Galatians 2:20-21 “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.”
I believe the difficulty lies in the ‘how to’ when I get in the way.
When my feelings are involved, or my sense of justice or my perception of interferes with the pure, unadulterated grace for which I am called to be a minister, I will frustrate, or receive that grace in vain.
I often hear, “I just can’t ________!” The blank can be forgive, or forget, or let it go. The frustration turns into anger. Anger not dealt with turns into bitterness and defiles all around us.
Hebrews 12:15 “Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled“
Some of the most amazing acts of grace are seen in those who have forgiven those who created the greatest wound. One of the most profile examples is in the life of Corrie ten Boom. This excerpt is a bit lengthy, but very much worth reading!
“Each had something to forgive, whether it was a neighbor who had turned him in to the Nazi authorities or a vicious camp guard or a brutal soldier.
In mid-May 1945 the Allies marched into Holland, to the unspeakable joy of the Dutch people. Despite the distractions of her work, Corrie was still restless, and she desperately missed her beloved Betsie. But now she remembered Betsie’s words: that they must tell others what they had learned.
Thus began more than three decades of travel around the world as a “tramp for the Lord,” as Corrie described herself. She told people her story, of God’s forgiveness of sins, and of the need for people to forgive those who had harmed them.
Corrie herself was put to the test in 1947 while speaking in a Munich church. At the close of the service, a balding man in a gray overcoat stepped forward to greet her. Corrie froze. She knew this man well; he’d been one of the most vicious guards at Ravensbrück, one who had mocked the women prisoners as they showered. “It came back with a rush,” she wrote, “the huge room with its harsh overhead lights; the pathetic pile of dresses and shoes in the center of the floor; the shame of walking naked past this man.”
And now he was pushing his hand out to shake hers, and saying:
“A fine message, Fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!”
And I, who had spoken so glibly of forgiveness, fumbled in my pocketbook rather than take that hand. He would not remember me, of course — how could he remember one prisoner among those thousands of women?
But I remembered him and the leather crop swinging from his belt. I was face to face with one of my captors, and my blood seemed to freeze.
“You mentioned Ravensbrück in your talk,” he was saying. “I was a guard there… But since that time,” he went on, “I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein” — again the hand came out —“will you forgive me?”
And I stood there — I whose sins had again and again to be forgiven — and could not forgive. Betsie had died in that place — could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
The soldier stood there expectantly, waiting for Corrie to shake his hand. She “wrestled with the most difficult thing I had ever had to do. For I had to do it — I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us.”
Standing there before the former S.S. man, Corrie remembered that forgiveness is an act of the will — not an emotion. “Jesus, help me!” she prayed. “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.”
Corrie thrust out her hand.
And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
“I forgive you, brother!” I cried. “With all my heart.”
For a long moment we grasped each other’s hands, the former guard and the former prisoner. I had never known God’s love so intensely as I did then. But even so, I realized it was not my love. I had tried, and did not have the power. It was the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Corrie ten Boom, with Jamie Buckingham, Tramp for the Lord. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1975), 217–218.
You see, it is possible for one human being to forgive another human being when the most heinous of crimes committed. None starker than when Christ looked down from the cross and said:
Luke 23:34 “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
Would to God we could go beyond ourselves and be a good steward of the grace we so freely received!