When he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad… —Acts 11:23
Barnabas saw something at Antioch that made him glad. What did he see? He saw “the grace of God” in the lives of people who recently turned to the Lord! When a person experiences the grace of God that brings salvation, it will be observable in their life (see Titus 2:11-12).
I “see” the grace of God every time I attend our church. I “see” the grace of God in a mother who was recently in bondage to drugs, but now disciples others for the Lord Jesus Christ. I “see” the grace of God in the life of a young man who lived like a wild animal, but now is a manager of successful a business in our city. I “see” the grace of God in a man who was controlled by an angry and violent spirit, but now is one of the kindest gentlemen you could ever know. I “see” the grace of God in women who once had an abortion, but now live in forgiveness. I “see” the grace of God in the lives of people who were blinded by heretical doctrines but now walk in the truth of the gospel. I “see” the grace of God every time I look in the mirror.
As one song says:
I see grace, in every life, on every face.
On the faithful who gather each week in this place.
I see grace.
What do you “see” when you come to church. I hope you see “the grace of God” in the lives of those who attend. It will make you glad, like Barnabas. Do people “see” God’s grace in YOU?
Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: —1 Peter 1:6
As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. —1 Peter 4:10
In the Peter’s first epistle he uses the word “manifold” twice—Once in reference to temptations and once referring to the grace of God. These two references make an interesting parallel.
The word “manifold” is a combination to two words: “Many” + “fold.” It means “various in kind or quality; numerous; multiplied or complicated.” It indicates a thing of many kinds or having a variety of forms. For example, an automobile engine has an exhaust manifold. It collects the exhaust gases from multiple cylinders into one pipe.
As believers we encounter “manifold temptations”— Temptation comes in all shapes and sizes and from various sources — Sickness… Financial… Family… Persecution… Disasters… Ministry… Satan.
But, as believers we are stewards of “the manifold grace of God” which is more than sufficient to counteract the “manifold temptations” we face.
“The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious” —Ecclesiastes 10:12
When people heard Jesus speak in the synagogue in Nazareth, they “wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth” (Luke 4:22).
It grieves me to hear some of the ungracious things Christians (and preachers) say towards each other. I know it must also grieve the Holy Ghost. Too often Christians are just as “mean” as non-Christians. Job’s “friends” said some mean things about him that would make you think Job was the worst man on earth (Job 11:3; 22:5-9).
Recently someone sent me an email that paid me one the nicest compliments I have ever received. It simply read, “Thanks again for being gracious.” I cannot think of a nicer thing that could be said about me (or anyone else).
Aren’t you glad God has been gracious towards you? The word gracious comes from the word grace. Grace is God treating you better than you deserve. How can I treat people different than the way God has treated me? We who have have “tasted that the Lord is gracious” (1 Pet. 2:3), ought to extend that same grace towards others.
Paul exhorts us to “Let your speech be ALWAY with GRACE” (Col. 4:6). Yes, sometimes we need to season our speech with a little salt. But a little salt goes a long way! If you put too much salt on your food and it becomes unpalatable and unhealthy. Just a “sprinkle” of salt is enough. I would rather be known for gracious speech rather than salty speech.
When I mess up (which I often do) I hope people will extend a measure of grace towards my mistakes. But, I cannot expect someone to treat me with grace if I have not been gracious towards them for their mistakes.
Think about the words that proceed out of your mouth when you speak about those who don’t measure up to your standards? Are your words gracious words? If you want to be treated with grace, you must also extend grace to those who fall short of your expectations (see Mt. 5;7; Luke 6:30).
When was the last time someone thanked you for being gracious? If you cannot remember, maybe you should ask yourself, “Am I gracious?”
“With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love.” —Ephesians 4:2
Are there people in your life that you have trouble getting along with? Their personality, manners, and peculiar quirks get on your nerves? Being in their company drives you up a wall? C.S. Lewis writes about such people in his book God in the Dock. He points out the things that frustrate us in other people are the very same things God endures in each of us everyday! Lewis writes: “You are just that sort of person. You also have a fatal flaw in your character. All the hopes and plans of others have again and again shipwrecked on your character just as your hopes and plans have shipwrecked on theirs.”
Knowing this should motivate us to show the same patience and acceptance to others that God shows toward each of us everyday. It’s called forbearance. Forbearance is to politely and patiently restrain the impulse to retaliate when you are irritated. Basically it is the capacity to “put up” with difficult people and exhibit grace instead of allowing them to get you riled.
Next time someone’s idiosyncrasies rub you the wrong way, respond with the same grace and forbearance that God has shown you. As Paul writes, “Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” —Colossians 3:13
“But he giveth more grace…” —James 4:6
God is the God of all grace (1 Pet. 5:10). God never runs out of grace. His grace is always sufficient. There is always “more grace” where that came from! It is like a bottomless box of Kleenex—When you pull out one tissue, another appears to use… then another… then another!
An artist once submitted a painting of Niagara Falls to an exhibition, but never gave a title to it. The art gallery, faced with the need to supply one, came up with these words: “More to Follow.” Old Niagara Falls, spilling over billions of gallons per year for thousands of years, has more than met the needs of those below and is a fit emblem of the floods of God’s grace He showers upon us. There is always more to follow! The Apostle John wrote of this reality, “Of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace,” literally, “grace heaped upon grace.” (John 1:16).
Just pay a visit to “the throne of grace…and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).