For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14)
I really like this morning’s passage because it describes a grace that goes beyond our normal expectations. When we think of the word “grace” we often think only of forgiveness. After all, God poured His grace out on the cross of Calvary in the person of His Son Jesus.
But grace is bigger than forgiveness. It encompasses all good gifts that come from God. The sun that rose this morning and the first breath you remember taking after you opened your eyes were a part of God’s grace. So are the people in your life who bring you joy and the roof over your head that shelters you from the elements.
And this morning Paul reminds us of one other, seldom noted characteristic of grace. Grace is a teacher that trains us to live godly lives in the present age.
How does it teach us? It does so by reminding us of the price Jesus paid to bring about our salvation. He died on the cross to cancel our debt of sin and redeem us for His Father’s purposes. If we don’t understand the trouble we were in when we were trapped by sin, we can’t fully appreciate how thankful we should be for the price Jesus paid, and the grace we have been given.
We have been purified with the blood of Jesus. Our hearts desire should be to “do what is good” and every time we are tempted to do otherwise we should hear grace say “No!”
Grace is not a person, as are God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. When we say it teaches us, we are merely personifying a spiritual truth. Yet, in time, we grow to love grace in much the same way we love a person. Perhaps this is because Jesus was Himself grace personified as He expressed it in full love and surrender on the cross.
Sometimes the descriptions I hear of grace sound more like a “get out of jail free” card than a treasured truth. There are those who sin willfully because they say God accepts them as they are. This is true in the sense that God doesn’t turn anyone away. But in actuality, God doesn’t believe a life of sin is acceptable. If He did, He wouldn’t have put His Son through the pain of the cross to redeem us.
God expects us to leave our lives of sin. He assumes we will want to do what is good because that is the purpose for which we have been redeemed. To do otherwise is like falling asleep in our first-hour class where grace is doing her best to teach us how to please God.
Today we wait for the “glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” What will He find us doing when He comes?
Dear God, help me grow in my understanding of grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.