November 26, 2014

Gratitude – Our Response To God’s Grace

Speaker: Dr. Harold J. Sala | Series: Guidelines For Living | For if, by the trespass of one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Romans 5:17

The late Dr. Louie Talbot once told of a visit to the gigantic Niagara Falls on the border of Canada and the United States. For some time, Talbot just stood there awe-struck as the millions and millions of gallons of water poured over the cliffs into that great abyss of roaring, turbulent water below.

Then Talbot noticed that where falling cascades of water hit the depths below, there was a turbulence which created a spray which rose in the form of a mist. It rose higher and higher until it reached the top of the falls.

As he observed this magnificent phenomenon, Talbot thought: “Why, that mist coming up is just a picture of worship.” Describing that experience, he wrote, “Those millions of gallons of water pouring and pouring and pouring down upon that open abyss showed something of the river of God’s grace–all His goodness and all of His mercy being poured down upon mankind.”

Talbot’s picture of mist representing the praise and thanksgiving of God’s people in response to the cascading ocean of grace represented by the waterfall is a pretty good illustration, at least, of the way it should be.

For a moment, ponder what God’s grace really is. First–I can tell you that theologians say grace is “unmerited favor!” One writer described grace as “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” Both tell me that grace means I get something–something which clearly I don’t deserve.

One thing is certain: Grace is different from mercy. Remember when you were a child and took a cookie from the cookie jar when mother said, “Stay out of the cookie jar”? You could have been punished, right? You deserved a spanking, but you didn’t get one. You got by with a scolding. That’s mercy!

But grace involved receiving what you did not deserve, could never pay back, and could not fully be worthy of. No wonder Paul said that salvation is by God’s grace through faith (See Ephesians 2:7-8).

In 1779, a slave-trader turned minister and song writer wrote, “Amazing grace! how sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, Was blind, but now I see.”

Praise and thanksgiving, as a response to what God has done for us, should be like the mist that rises from the turbulence of Niagara’s waterfall. The flow of God’s grace doesn’t stop. It isn’t regulated by the government or religious authorities. It isn’t quenched by famine or drought. It doesn’t come in response to your goodness. Day and night, like the cascading water, God’s amazing grace flows from heaven to quench the thirst of our barren, empty lives.

A generation of men and women today need to discover that grace is more than the name of a girl. It describes what God has done for mankind, and in all of the wisdom of the world, there is nothing that parallels this marvelous act of God towards undeserving men and women.

A final thought. A study of this word in the New Testament shows very clearly that what I do has nothing to do with grace. When you work for a person and get paid for your work, what the employer does can never be described as grace. Call it payment, honoring an agreement or a contract, but not grace.

Until the mighty Niagara of God’s grace ceases to flow, may our response be as unending as the mist which hovers above the boiling waters. Yes, how amazing is His grace!

Resource reading: Romans 5:17-21.