This weekend seemed to be a series of revelations to me! It started on Saturday morning when I continued to forge-on in my new study of I Timothy using one of the “Be” commentaries written by Warren Wiersbe as my initial guide. It continued that evening as I watched one of three programs on the local PBS channel that I’ve been enjoying that cover things to do in North Carolina, historical sites and unique business endeavors in the Tar Heel State. Then on Sunday there was the story of a gentleman who had recently become blind and the way he has faced his fears. This was portrayed on the PBS show that works together with the “Our State” magazine that gives detailed monthly looks into many of the unique attributes of our new home.
And just before we went to bed last night, I flipped on one of the ministries we’ve supported for years and ended up staying up a little later than I had originally wanted to. We did this in order to listen to and catch the significance of a prophecy that was given in 1974 that seems to relate to our current government’s administration, in line with God’s plan for America!
So, to say the least, it was a very enlightening weekend! As I read from I Timothy 1:12-17 on Saturday morning my interest was piqued as I read verse fourteen where Paul, concerning his unique salvation experience, states that “the grace our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love, which is in Christ Jesus.” KJV) The Message Bible says that “Grace mixed with faith and love poured over and into me…” While the 1889 Darby translation declares “The grace of our Lord surpassingly over-abounded with faith and love…”
The thought of love mixing with grace and mercy caught my attention. And as I meditated on that idea my eyes glanced over to a couple of defining statements made by the author of the commentary. Reverend Wiersbe wrote that “God in His mercy did not give Paul what he did deserve; instead, God in His grace gave Paul what he did not deserve. Grace and mercy are God’s love in action.”
Then a few lines down he continued his point that “It is not God’s love alone that saves us, for God loves the whole world (John 3:16). It is by grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8-9) because God is rich in mercy and grace” (Ephesians 2:7). I am not totally sure why, but that last line hit me like a brick and my mind was overwhelmed with understanding!
Throughout this journey that my sweet wife and I have been on with the deterioration of her health, I have often wondered how people who we know love us, have responded in some of the most difficult ways that either of us have ever experienced. As I read this explanation I suddenly understood that the Godly agape love that Paul is talking about is a combination of LOVE and GRACE! What we’ve been seeing is love without grace! Then I also saw that love without grace is like the natural love that we see abounding in the world in which we live.
Through the years of ministry and secular management in three different corporations, I have often times shook my head in disbelief as I’ve witnessed couples fighting and/or getting divorced over things that I, in our experience, would consider having a simple solution. But now I understand that the one quality that was missing in their relationships was grace!
I have known for the forty seven years of our relationship, which includes five years of dating that began in High School, that I ALWAYS have an “ear of grace” with my wife! I know without a doubt that I can tell her anything, including the just plain dumb or stupid things I’ve done over the years, and receive grace in the form of a warm hug, compassion, forgiveness (if necessary), and just the perfect words of encouragement without any trace of judgment or criticism.
I’ve discovered that love and grace go together hand in glove. That grace enables or empowers our love walk and gives us the strength and ability to walk out the activity of love toward others… as well as to ourselves! Love without grace is powerless to act in certain situations. This kind of love results in but empty or meaningless words when real action is required.
LOVE plus GRACE = God’s Agape love.
We’ll continue on this theme for a few more blog posts… which just might include an example by one of America’s most well-known pioneer, woodsman and frontiersman Daniel Boone! But in the meantime, I would encourage you to think about the combination of LOVE and GRACE that is working in your life! How enabled is your love walk today?
Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting my activities to be filled with God’s GRACE today?”