Goodness Gracious!

By | 29 Jun 2024
Goodness of God title image

The longer I’ve been alive and serving Jesus, the more and more I am captivated by our Heavenly Father’s character, especially His goodness and grace. Apart from His loving mercy, it is almost certain I would not have survived long enough to become an author lo these 13+ years ago, much less write this article today.

Back in December 2011, I delved into God’s character in great depth here on Miscellaneous Ramblings, so I will not reinvent that wheel here. What I do intend here is to refocus ourselves collectively on these two attributes because they, in my humble opinion, are the foremost foundational concepts upon which we build our worldview as Christ-followers.

The Lord is Good!

As you read through the Old Testament, one of the recurring themes you will find is the children of Israel gathered together, worshipping the Lord in the beauty of holiness, singing and/or shouting, “For the Lord is good and His mercy (in other passages, “love”) endures forever!”

And he (Moses) said, “Please, show me Your glory.” Then He (God) said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you.”
Exodus 33:18-19 (emphasis & parentheticals mine)

God’s goodness is the one divine attribute which most significantly differentiates Him from us. The Apostle John weighed in on this idea with His proclamation that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (see 1 John 1:5).

We inherently selfish human beings with sin-corrupted intellectual and character limitations have a tremendously difficult time wrapping our puny powers of reasoning around that idea. Absent a renewed mind, our default position is to regard the Almighty as an invisible, all-powerful, all-knowing Being possessing a similar attitude, mindset, prejudices, and reactions to those we have. As one wag recent stated in a FaceBook meme, “God created man in His own image. Man responded by returning the favor.”

As I’ve stated many times here at Miscellaneous Ramblings, we humans all carry a subconscious racial memory of Eden’s perfection and call that “normal.” All our experiences and relationships are perceived and responded to through that mental filter. Because that memory of perfection predates The Rebellion and we live in a corrupted-by-sin post-revolt existence, those preconceptions of “normal” do not reflect our daily reality, so we regard anything not meeting that remembered standard as aberrations. As a result, we constantly long for and subconsciously pursue normality with a tenacity which defies description. We humans then spend a huge amount of time, effort, and mental energy trying to force the square peg of our daily lives into that round hole of “normal.”

From the foundations of the universe, God saw all our vain attempts to find our spiritual rear-ends with both hands and a flashlight. Recognizing our abject failure at that endeavor, He determined there was only one Solution which would fulfill the justice demanded by His own goodness. By His grace, He sent Jesus to suffer in our place the punishment we so richly deserve (what theologians call Jesus’ “propitiationary and expiationary atonement”) which He then made available to all who would surrender to Him as Lord and Master. He then lavishes upon those of us who have done so with “the riches of His goodness” (see Romans 2:4).

propitiation
the substitutionary work of Jesus to satisfy God’s righteous wrath against the sins of mankind
expiation
the removal of sin and the guilt which comes with that sin

No matter what situations we may face as believers as we live out our lives on this beautiful-yet-corrupted-by-sin planet, God is always good all of the time. That may sound a bit trite, but some of the most powerful spiritual truths are simply expressed.

A goodly portion of the challenges we face, whether relational, financial, medical, or professional, are closely coupled with a strong temptation to doubt that fact. Truth be told, the original temptation leading up to The Rebellion in Eden was Satan bringing God’s goodness into question in the minds of Adam and Eve, specifically: God’s holding out on you by withholding that tree’s fruit from your diet. That accusation has not changed one iota during the ensuing millennia since then.

Nowadays, one of the frequent attack-vectors for militant atheists is to call God’s goodness into question by abusing various proof-texts from the Bible. When some people die after receiving a multitude of prayers for their healing, the survivors are tempted with the similar questions, “Is it really God’s will to heal everyone?” or “If God really loves us, why did He allow that person to die?”

We have zero divine permission or mandate to defend such situations to ourselves or others. We do not have the option of changing our assignment, which is to believe God regardless of what we can feel with our emotions or perceive with our minds. We are not granted the purview of reinterpreting what God has clearly spoken by His Spirit in His Word to make it conform to what we can grasp with our limited-by-corrupted-flesh intellects.

There is only one scriptural response to all such questions: our humble surrender to Him declaring, “I’m not moved by what I see, only by the Word of God which says, ‘He is good and His love endures forever!’

God’s Grace

One of the many benefits of our surrender to him is His abundant grace thereafter becomes the driving spiritual force in our daily lives, or at least it should be. That is God’s clearly stated will (see Romans 12:2). Among a multitude of other situations, it certainly provides the vigor for us to do what we just discussed.

While that grace is absolutely in place legally from the very moment we receive the New Birth, we progressively experience it in greater and greater measure as our minds are renewed to His Word over time. Tragically, quite a few believers fail to experience that reality because their mind-renewal process gets short-circuited through a combination of poor spiritual priorities, scriptural ignorance, and the deceptions of our enemy, Satan, especially those accompanying challenges and tragedies.

This singular topic is central to the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

  • Grace is what makes Christianity completely unique, differentiating it from all other religions and philosophies on the planet.
  • Grace is the doctrinal lifeblood of the New Testament.
  • Accordingly, grace is the analytical lens through which all Christian theology must be read, studied, interpreted, assimilated, and lived.
  • Grace is the power of God for Christ-followers to successfully live the Christian life.
  • We cannot live joy-filled, productive-for-the-Kingdom lives as Christian believers without having an ever-increasing personal revelation concerning grace.
  • Apart from His grace, we are doomed to “lives of quiet desperation” as we attempt to earn through dead religious works what God has freely given us as a gift in the Person of Jesus.

What is Grace?

One of the essential doctrines of Christianity is that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Simple phrase, yes, but absolute Truth!

While there are numerous verses covering the topic of grace in the New Testament, the central one is found in the second chapter of Ephesians. Here is that passage in several different translations:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
Ephesians 2:8-10

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation].
Ephesians 2:8-10 AMP

For by grace you have been saved by faith. Nothing you did could ever earn this salvation, for it was the love gift from God that brought us to Christ! So no one will ever be able to boast, for salvation is never a reward for good works or human striving.
Ephesians 2:8-10 TPT

Saving is all His idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let Him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.
Ephesians 2:8-10 MSG

Grace is a Divine Mystery

Grace is a a divine mystery our puny human minds cannot seem to fathom, no matter how hard we try. As I’ve written in several articles here at Miscellaneous Ramblings, we can thoroughly examine such mysteries in the Word of God until we are blue in the face, but they ultimately remain outside our intrinsically flawed human ability to fully grasp intellectually. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:12 “For now we see in a mirror, dimly…”

Therefore, we must accept them in childlike faith, assured in our hearts they indeed are spiritual realities we can experience while holding only a hazy grasp of its underlying mechanisms. Our attempts to fold, spindle, and mutilate those hazy aspects of the divine into the neatly categorized boxes our Greco-Roman, flesh-driven, knowledge-is-power mindsets demand ultimately leads to some form of heresy.

In the case of grace, in my humble opinion the primary associated heresy has been Judaizing, the false doctrine demanding we must obey all 600+ regulations for Jewish religious practice found in the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible, aka the Law of Moses aka the Torah) above and beyond our surrender to Jesus as Lord of our lives in order to make it to heaven. The Apostle Paul wrote the entire book of Galatians to definitively and completely refute that heresy once and for all.

Unfortunately, despite his best efforts to put a stake through the heart of that religious vampire, legalism keeps resurrecting itself over the intervening centuries to suck the spiritual lifeblood from believers. Classic Pentecostalism, 7th Day Adventism, 18th and 19th-century Methodism, Roman Catholicism, as well as all Christianity-based cults throughout history embrace some form of this heresy to one degree or another. Other than 7th Day Adventism, this heresy does not express itself in the literal Judaizing Paul addressed, but legalists always have a list of do’s and don’t’s for their members to follow for them to enter their particular perception of “heaven.”

As I detailed earlier here as well as in my article on man’s religion, the human race has a racial memory of Eden and The Fall. Along with the aforementioned racial memory of “normal,” we have also inherited an innate compulsion to resolve our alienation from God. That subconscious drive expresses itself in 2 polar-opposite ways:

  1. Complete rebellion against the idea of being accountable to the Almighty in the first place by either denying His very existence (atheism), or by refusing to accept that He has any desire and/or authority to impose any standards of morality upon us (deism);
  2. A compulsion to perform dead religious works to appease what we perceive as an angry deity (legalism).

The sticking point in the first point is its denial of reality. God indeed exists; He is Who He says He is, He means what He says about both Himself and us as found in His Word, He has clearly expressed what He expects of us in that same library, and we can take all that to the bank. The problem with the second point lies in what I’m now going to discuss.

Why Do We Need Grace in the First Place?

Associated with the core Christian tenet of salvation by grace is a second one theologians have termed “The Depravity of Man.” The gist of this is described on the Miscellaneous Ramblings Statement of Faith which I will now cite verbatim:

Original Sin & the Depravity Of Man

Man was created good and upright in the image and likeness of God. The first man, Adam, rebelled against God and, thus, sin and death entered into the world. Adam’s rebellion incurred not only physical death for man, but also spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God. Man’s propensity to sin because of his sinful nature necessitates both salvation from the power of sin and a Savior to provide that salvation.

Mankind’s innate, inescapable sinfulness and God’s grace are essentially two sides of the same coin, conceptually inseparable because the former is the foundational requirement for the latter. What I mean is this: absent our utter and inescapable selfishness, God’s grace would be superfluous. In other words, Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection would have been completely unnecessary; otherwise, we could have simply earned our way into heaven by always “doing the right things.”

The concept of man’s depravity runs directly counter to the secular humanistic worldview which portrays mankind as inherently good. Launching from that fraudulent foundational assumption, several inescapable fallacious conclusions inevitably must follow. The most relevant of them to our discussion here is there is this: assuming our inherent goodness, there no such thing as an evil human being. What we then are forced to conclude that a person who does bad things does so because he or she is acted upon by external forces beyond that individual’s ability to control, such as:

  • The division of any society into a “ruling class” and oppressed victim groups based upon criteria such as:
    • Skin color
    • Ethnicity
    • Gender identity
    • Age
    • Sexual orientation
    • Degree of personal wealth and/or financial opportunity — or lack thereof
    • Any other overtly distinguishing trait/factor
  • Coupled with oppression by that “ruling class” towards one or more of those victim groups resulting in:
    • A lack of upward socioeconomic mobility
    • The lack of a “voice” in local, regional, and national politics
    • A lack of education
    • Religious fanaticism
    • Any other perceived deprivation

All those factors are frequently wielded in combination — but rarely individually — by politicians, activists, and the media alike. Please note the only factor missing from this list is personal responsibility for one’s own actions.

The general rule is this: the more “victim groups” a person belongs to, the less blameworthy that person is for his or her misbehavior in the court of public opinion. Here’s a theoretical example from modern-day political discourse: a wealthy, educated, heterosexual, white male automatically bins him into the “ruling class” and is therefore completely to blame for his bad choices whereas an impoverished, illiterate, black or Hispanic transgender person belongs to multiple victim classes and accordingly receives a free pass for the selfsame acts.

Having abysmally misdiagnosed the “disease,” secular humanists go on to prescribe totally ineffective “cures.” These remedies can be summed up as follows: the ultimate solution to all human problems can be found in education, technology, and social engineering over time, with a total dependency upon the mechanism of secular human government to bring those solutions into existence.

This is the fallacious mythos underlying the Star Trek franchise: through sufficient social engineering, technology, education, etc., universal prosperity and social/economic/ethnic equality will eventually prevail. As a result, the characteristic of “badness” can be culled from the human herd over time, thus leading to a utopian society. Interestingly, every plot of every ST episode runs directly counter to that premise because, as we all know, there is no such thing as a good drama apart from conflict and resolution. In a utopia, there are no conflicts and therefore no concomitant requirement for resolutions. So even such an idealistic premise as the utopian United Federation of Planets cannot even be communicated apart from its antithesis.

Back in the 18th and 19th centuries during the so-called “Enlightenment” (a complete misnomer), the intelligentsia of the day sought to distance themselves from Roman-Catholic-based religious dogma (and by extension, true Christianity because they conflated the two) through their pseudo-science and atheistic philosophies. One of the expressions of all that philosophical tomfoolery was the founding of several utopian groups which vainly attempted to create societies where mankind’s “inherent goodness” would be allowed to bud and flower. All of those attempts, I might add, were utter failures; in each and every case, the founder eventually subjected his followers to a cult-of-personality-based dictatorship.

Even utopian societies founded upon biblical principles and the Lordship of Jesus have all failed in the same ways the secular ones did and for the same reasons. The only theocracy which will ever work on this planet will be run by Jesus during His millennial reign because only He has the sinless character required to pull it off.

In every case where human accountability to our transcendental, maximally-great, omnibenevolent Creator has been removed within a society, we see in abundant evidence the corruption inherent to the human condition. One excellent example is the inescapable fact that, despite Hitler’s, Marx’s, Engels’, Lenin’s, and Mao’s utopian pipe-dreams, every communist country in history has utterly failed to deliver anything to its citizens but abject poverty, a complete loss of personal freedom, and mass executions numbering in the millions.

If the fallacy of humanity’s inherent goodness was indeed verifiably true and, then we should have seen at least some evidence of progress coming to pass over the centuries since it was first posited.

Do we? Not even close!

If anything, we witness the world becoming ever more selfish, more perverse, more corrupt, more depraved, more warlike, more dangerous, and poorer with every passing minute.

But what about “good men?” Well, the idea of a good man on this earth apart from a vital, intimate relationship with Jesus Christ is yet another humanist myth. Here’s what the Bible says:

…There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside; they have together become unprofitable; there is none who does good, no, not one. Their throat is an open tomb; With their tongues they have practiced deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:10-18,23

As I covered in my previous article entitled Who’s In Charge? — The Cosmic Battle For Control God Almighty is the only Person in the universe Who knows the hearts and minds of every man, woman, and child on Earth. And as Jesus clearly taught in the Sermon on the Mount and elsewhere in the Gospels, our Heavenly Father is concerned with the attitudes, motivations, and conditions of our hearts, rather than merely our outward appearance and behaviors. And as He addresses those, our daily interactions with others progressively express His character rather than our corrupt ones.

Why?

Because morally excellent and loving choices come from unselfish thinking. Such thinking only develops through our ever-increasing surrender to the Person of Jesus Christ.

It’s Never About the Rules

The bottom line here is God has clearly and repeatedly stated we human beings are completely incapable of hoisting our sorry butts out of the bottomless morass of our inherent selfishness. Regardless of how altruistic we try to be, ultimately we are serving ourselves for our own selfish gain, no matter how well we try to hide, deny, or excuse it. Even after we surrender to Jesus and experience the New Birth, we are constantly having to crucify that tendency to choose badly.

This means that we cannot come up with a set of rules in order to please God, period. Indeed, God states in Romans 7 how the rules just make us want to sin even more! And every world religion outside of Christianity (Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, classic Roman Catholicism, Mormonism, ad infinitum, ad nauseum) is ALL about their adherents following a set of rules. The rules and their resulting dead religious works come from man’s religion as I’ve described in my very first article of this blog.

Whenever we’re operating under a set of rules, we then have those who keep them (moral, religious, over-achievers) and those that don’t (immoral, irreligious, under-achievers). The former category then tends to look down on those in the latter one. The over-achievers looking down on the under-achievers have disqualified themselves just as badly as those they hold in contempt.

Salvation is a Gift

clinging to the crossEven in the human realm, we do not give gifts to people who earn them, we give them gifts because we love them. God extends salvation as a gift through His grace because of His infinite love for us (see 1 John 4:8 which proclaims love defines His very essence).

The English dictionary defines “gift” and “grace” as follows:

gift
a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present
grace
in Christian belief: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.

Here’s what the Greek lexicon has to say about the word “grace:”

grace (charis)
good will, loving-kindness, favor;
of the merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues

Based upon this definition, we can see that it is indeed the grace of God that empowers us to not only be saved in the first place, but also to successfully live the Christian life of love and service. This fact cannot be overstated.

And when we operate in grace, personal performance as a criteria for our standing before our God goes completely out the window.

In The Grip Of Grace

One of my all-time favorite Christian books is In The Grip Of Grace by renowned pastor and author Max Lucado.

This book is an exceptionally readable commentary on the Book of Romans. After the Bible itself, I personally feel it should be required reading for every Christ-follower.

Yes, it’s that good!

In concluding this article, I want to cite a goodly portion of Chapter 1 of this book here because it so beautifully and eloquently illustrates the concept of grace:

Chapter 1: The Parable of the River

Once there were five sons who lived in a mountain castle with their father. The eldest was an obedient son, but his four younger brothers were rebellious. Their father had warned them of the river, but they had not listened. He had begged them to stay clear of the bank lest they be swept downstream, but the river’s lure was too strong.

Each day the four rebellious brothers ventured closer and closer until one son dared to reach in and feel the waters. “Hold my hand so I won’t fall in,” he said, and his brothers did. But when he touched the water, the current yanked him and the other three into the rapids and rolled them down the river.

Over rocks they bounced, through the channels they roared, on the swells they rode. Their cries for help were lost in the rage of the river. Though they fought to gain their balance, they were powerless against the strength of the current. After hours of struggle, they surrendered to the pull of the river. The waters finally dumped them on the bank in a strange land, in a distant country, in a barren place.

Savage people dwelt in the land. It was not safe like their home.

Rugged mountains marked the land. It was not inviting like their home.

Though they did not know where they were, of one fact they were sure: they were not intended for this place. For a long time the four young sons lay on the bank, stunned at their fall and not knowing where to turn. After some time they gathered their courage and reentered the waters, hoping to walk upstream. But the current was too strong. They attempted to walk along the river’s edge, but the terrain was too steep. They considered climbing the mountains, but the peaks were too high. Besides, they didn’t know the way.

Finally, they built a fire and sat down. “We shouldn’t have disobeyed our father,” they admitted. “We are a long way from home.”

With the passage of time, the sons learned to survive in the strange land. They found nuts for food and killed animals for skins. They determined not to forget their homeland nor abandon hopes of returning. Each day they set about the task of finding food and building shelter. Each evening they built a fire and told stories of their father and older brother. All four sons longed to see them again.

Then, one night, one brother failed to come to the fire. The others found him the next morning in the valley with the savages. He was building a hut of grass and mud. “I’ve grown tired of our talks,” he told them. “What good does it do to remember? Besides, this land isn’t so bad. I will build a great house and settle here.”

“But it isn’t home,” they objected.

“No, but it is if you don’t think of the real one.”

“But what of Father?”

“What of him? He isn’t here. He isn’t near. Am I to spend forever awaiting his arrival? I’m making new friends; I’m learning new ways. If he comes, he comes, but I’m not holding my breath.”

And so the other three left their hut-building brother and walked away. They continued to meet around the fire, speaking of home and dreaming of their return.

Some days later a second brother failed to appear at the campfire. The next morning his siblings found him on a hillside staring at the hut of his brother.

“How disgusting,” he “told them as they approached. “Our brother is an utter failure. An insult to our family name. Can you imagine a more despicable deed? Building a hut and forgetting our father?”

“What he’s doing is wrong,” agreed the youngest, “but what we did was wrong as well. We disobeyed. We touched the river. We ignored our father’s warnings.”

“Well, we may have made a mistake or two, but compared to the sleaze in the hut, we are saints. Father will dismiss our sin and punish him.”

“Come,” urged his two brothers, “return to the fire with us.”

“No, I think I’ll keep an eye on our brother. Someone needs to keep a record of his wrongs to show Father.”

And so the two returned, leaving one brother building and the other judging.

The remaining two sons stayed near the fire, encouraging each other and speaking of home. Then one morning the youngest son awoke to find he was alone. He searched for his brother and found him near the river, stacking rocks.

“It’s no use,” the rock-stacking brother explained as he worked. “Father won’t come for me. I must go to him. I offended him. I insulted him. I failed him. There is only one option. I will build a path back up the river and walk into our father’s presence. Rock upon rock I will stack until I have enough rocks to travel upstream to the castle. When he sees how hard I have worked and how diligent I have been, he will have no choice but to open the door and let me into his house.”

The last brother did not know what to say. He returned to sit by the fire, alone. One morning he heard a familiar voice behind him. “Father has sent me to bring you home.”

The youngest lifted his eyes to see the face of his oldest brother. “You have come for us!” he shouted. For a long time the two embraced.

“And your brothers?” the eldest finally asked.

“One has made a home here. Another is watching him. The third is building a path up the river.”

And so Firstborn set out to find his siblings. He went first to the thatched hut in the valley.

“Go away, stranger!” screamed the brother through the window. “You are not welcome here!”

“I have come to take you home.”

“You have not. You have come to take my mansion.”

“This is no mansion,” Firstborn countered. “This is a hut.”

“It is a mansion! The finest in the lowlands. I built it with my own hands. Now, go away. You cannot have my mansion.”

“Don’t you remember the house of your father?”

“I have no father.”

“You were born in a castle in a distant land where the air is warm and the fruit is plentiful. You disobeyed your father and ended up in this strange land. I have come to take you home.”

The brother peered through the window at Firstborn as if recognizing a face he’d remembered from a dream. But the pause was brief, for suddenly the savages in the house filled the window as well. “Go away, intruder!” they demanded. “This is not your home.”

“You are right,” responded the firstborn son, “but neither is it his.”

The eyes of the two brothers met again. Once more the hut-building brother felt a tug at his heart, but the savages had won his trust. “He just wants your mansion,” they cried. “Send him away!”

And so he did.

Firstborn sought the next brother. He didn’t have to walk far. On the hillside near the hut, within eyesight of the savages, sat the fault-finding son. When he saw Firstborn approaching, he shouted, “How good that you are here to behold the sin of our brother! Are you aware that he turned his back on the castle? Are you aware that he never speaks of home? I knew you would come. I have kept careful account of his deeds. Punish him! I will applaud your anger. He deserves it! Deal with the sins of our brother.”

Firstborn spoke softly, “We need to deal with your sins first.”

“My sins?”

“Yes, you disobeyed Father.”

The son smirked and slapped at the air. “My sins are nothing. There is the sinner,” he claimed, pointing to the hut. “Let me tell you of the savages who stay there . . .”

“I’d rather you tell me about yourself.”

“Don’t worry about me. Let me show you who needs help,” he said, running toward the hut. “Come, we’ll peek in the windows. He never sees me. Let’s go together.” The son was at the hut before he noticed that Firstborn hadn’t followed him.

Next, the eldest son walked to the river. There he found the last brother, knee-deep in the water, stacking rocks.
“Father has sent me to take you home.”

The brother never looked up. “I can’t talk now. I must work.”

“Father knows you have fallen. But he will forgive you…”

“He may,” the brother interrupted, struggling to keep his balance against the current, “but I have to get to the castle first. I must build a pathway up the river. First I will show him that I am worthy. Then I will ask for his mercy.”

“He has already given his mercy. I will carry you up the river. You will never be able to build a pathway. The river is too long. The task is too great for your hands. Father sent me to carry you home. I am stronger.”

For the first time the rock-stacking brother looked up. “How dare you speak with such irreverence! My father will not simply forgive. I have sinned. I have sinned greatly! He told us to avoid the river, and we disobeyed. I am a great sinner. I need much work.”

“No, my brother, you don’t need much work. You need much grace. The distance between you and our father’s house is too great. You haven’t enough strength nor the stones to build the road. That is why our father sent me. He wants me to carry you home.”

“Are you saying I can’t do it? Are you saying I’m not strong enough? Look at my work. Look at my rocks. Already I can walk five steps!”

“But you have five million to go!”

The younger brother looked at Firstborn with anger. “I know who you are. You are the voice of evil. You are trying to seduce me from my holy work. Get behind me, you serpent!” He hurled at Firstborn the rock he was about to place in the river.

“Heretic!” screamed the path-builder. “Leave this land. You can’t stop me! I will build this walkway and stand before my father, and he will have to forgive me. I will win his favor. I will earn his mercy.”

Firstborn shook his head. “Favor won is no favor. Mercy earned is no mercy. I implore you, let me carry you up the river.”

The response was another rock. So Firstborn turned and left.

The youngest brother was waiting near the fire when Firstborn returned.

“The others didn’t come?”

“No. One chose to indulge, the other to judge, and the third to work. None of them chose our father.”

“So they will remain here?”

The eldest brother nodded slowly. “For now.”

“And we will return to Father?” asked the brother.

“Yes.”

“Will he forgive me?”

“Would he have sent me if he wouldn’t?”

And so the younger brother climbed on the back of the Firstborn and began the journey home.

In the Grip of Grace by Max Lucado

So the question I want to leave you with is this:

Are you:

  1. Partying heartily,
  2. Judging strictly,
  3. Working pointlessly, or
  4. Resting in the arms of our Father Who sent our older Brother to rescue us?

The choice is yours.

Choose wisely…

Thanks for reading!