Daily Readings and Thought for November 27th. “THE GRACE OF GOD … TRAINING US”
When I was a child I remember the word GRACE as being what was said before a meal, words of thanksgiving and that, up to a point, is what it means.
It is a special word in the writings of Paul; have a careful look at how he uses it! Paul sees a great need to express his thanksgiving at the wonder of God’s grace toward him. So grace is specially related to the spirit of forgiveness, God’s mercy toward those who fear and love him – especially those who had been kicking against the goads of conscience as Paul had been. It is the same today, God never changes.
Our reading today is the whole of his letter to Titus, 3 chapters, but that’s only 46 verses. Four times he uses the word GRACE. The passage that particularly jumps out is, “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people; training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives” [2 v.11,12]
God’s work of Grace is centred on the work of His Son. But, here’s a very important question. How does God’s grace train us? Usually training means to receive instruction. Surely Paul understood that the spirit of thanksgiving for God’s mercy in that He is not dealing with us as we deserve – that this should cause such a reaction of appreciation in our minds that it causes us to WANT to live self-controlled and Godly lives and be ready to show grace to others.
But that did not always happen. Elsewhere Paul asks the question, “Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace?” [Rom. 6 v.15] Meaning, dare we think, that as God is always forgiving, does it really matter if we sin?
Is this what he was indicating when he wrote, “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” [Rom 5 v.20]? It is tragic that some “Christians” see this as a licence to do whatever they like without experiencing any pricking of conscience; it was a perception of this attitude which turned Mahatma Ghandi away from Christianity – if you read his autobiography. It is an attitude caused by shallow thinking!
But we are invited to lift up our minds toward heavenly things, as Paul also writes to Titus, “so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” [Titus 3 v.7]