GRACE LAVISHED UPON US – EPHESIANS 1:7-8

We live in a world in which everything runs out, rusts out or wears out. Everything has its limit. Nothing lasts for ever. Nothing escapes atrophy.

We also live in a world in which we expect to have to somehow pay for, earn, deserve, merit or qualify for what we receive. Even gifts are given, usually, on the basis of some pre-existing relationship to the giver that qualifies us for their friendship and generosity. If something appears to be ‘free’, if something appears to be too good to be true, we suspect a trap, we suspect a hidden agenda which will end up costing us heaps.

But this gift, this grace, of which the gospel of Jesus Christ speaks, knows no such limitations and no such pre-conditions.

It is so rich, so limitless that God describes it as ‘the riches of his grace …lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding’ [Ephesians 1:7].

The word translated ‘riches’ is in itself a reference to wealth and opulence, and surely that should have been sufficient a description of grace. But this other word ‘lavished’ is added to it.

This word, translated by ‘lavished on us’ [NIV] and ‘abounded toward us’ [KJV], indicates something that is super-abundant, more than what is needed, way above what is necessary.  A similar expression of this super-abundant grace is found in Ephesians 2:7: ‘the incomparable riches of his grace’ [NIV], ‘the exceeding riches of his grace’ [KJV], where the word translated ‘incomparable’ and ‘exceeding’ means ‘thrown beyond the normal mark’.

There is nothing ‘normal’ about the amount of God’s grace. It cannot be compared to anything else. It is abnormally rich, abnormally abundant, abnormally opulent. Immeasurable. Incomparable. Inexhaustible.

Because of God’s ‘wisdom and understanding’.

God understands, in a way that we never will, what his justice demands, and that he in his wisdom has fully satisfied those demands in and through the death of his Son. In addition, God knows, in a way that we will never know, how great is our spiritual need, how deep our spiritual destitution. He knows, in a way that we never will, how utterly impossible it is for us to ever qualify, to ever meet any pre-conditions, to escape his justice and gain and maintain his acceptance, his forgiveness.

In this divine wisdom, out of this divine understanding of both his justice and our spiritual poverty and impotence, God grants to us a completely just salvation not according to our merit but according to his grace – grace that is infinitely more abundant than we will ever imagine. He understands the fears that accuse and condemn us – fears that our sins are too big or too many or beyond forgiveness; in his wisdom he says: Fear not, my grace is bigger, way bigger; fear not, my grace will never run out; fear not, there are no pre-conditions, nothing you must do to qualify or remain qualified. I understand your fears. I understand your weakness. I know you are dust.

The measure of our security in Jesus Christ is God’s grace. The measure of God’s grace is his complete, perfect and infinite knowledge of both his justice and our deep spiritual poverty. No sin of ours, no failure of ours, no disregard of his law, is, from his perspective, unexpected. He has already seen it, known it, even before we have done it, and he has nailed it all to the cross of his Son.

Without limit. Without exception. Without reduction.

Grace. Lavished upon us.

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009