We don’t live in a rosy world where everyone gets along. No, we live in a sinful, fallen world. Our recent political cycle has brought out the ugly in all of us. How can we tame the discourse without sacrificing our right to disagree?
By doing so with grace – in discussion and teaching and listening and learning.
When grace is used as a noun, its often in reference to a gift. This gift is Jesus Christ and the message of Jesus Christ as our Savior. As an adjective, we know that while grace is undeserved, it is abundant and wonderful, and that God gives it to us sufficiently. Today we focus on grace as a verb.
Throughout the New Testament we are taught that grace is active. Paul cites grace as acts of kindness, generosity, spreading the Good News, and building others up. Peter writes that grace also restores, strengthens, confirms, and establishes us.
Without being a comprehensive study of grace, I’d like to look closer at 5 of the ways Paul and Peter describe grace as a verb.
1. Acts of Kindness – In Ephesians, Paul gives a reason for God’s love for us, “so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:7).” This section of Ephesians 2 explains that we are saved only by God’s grace through faith in Jesus. In this specific verse, we learn that God’s act of grace was His kindness toward us.
2. Acts of Generosity – Paul writes of generosity in the beginning of 2 Corinthians 8. Using the churches of Macedonia as an example of generosity, he then encourages Corinth to “excel in this act of grace also (2 Corinthians 8:7).” Paul is specifically referring to financial or material giving, but I think the principle can easily by applied to generosity in kindness and the sharing of the heart.
3. Acts of Sharing the Good News – Generosity of the heart lends itself to the ministry of sharing the Good News, which is Jesus Christ. In 2 Corinthians 8:19, Paul highlights the ministry – the act of spreading the Good News – as the grace that God gave them. Here we see that God called them into ministry and sufficiently supplied them in their quest to share Him.
“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of the messenger who brings good news, the good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!” – Isaiah 52:7, NLT
4. Builds Us Up – Paul says in Acts, “And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up…(Acts 20:32).” Paul is encouraging the elders of Ephesus to continue in their faith even though he must leave them. In Grace as a Noun, we identified the “word of His grace” as the message of Jesus Christ. With Christ as our Savior our sins are forgiven – this alone is encouraging and builds us up.
5. Restorative – We switch now to a verse from one of Peter’s letters: “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace…will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).” Peter wrote this to encourage the believers living in exile due to the Dispersion (1 Peter 1:1). Peter’s words add to Paul’s message about grace being able to build us up; God’s grace is Christ and through Christ we are restored to right standing with God. Moreover, Peter teaches that God’s grace not only restores us, It confirms our faith, strengthens our resolve to live by faith, and establishes us with Him for eternity.
How does grace as a verb help us tame the discourse when it gets ugly?
“…we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” – 2 Corinthians 6:1
By definition, a verb is an action word. As such, grace as a verb requires action. Offering grace in tense moments is an act of kindness and generosity; the action itself is a way to reflect the Good News in our lives, and it builds others up. Yet, we must also remember that restoration is God’s power alone; we are to let Him work through our words and actions, whether we notice His work or not.
I admit, it is not easy to hold my tongue when my feelings are hurt or harsh words are spoken. But, as children of God, we must remember to trust His sufficient grace. When we rely on Him, we are able to let the moment pass or to speak with grace instead.
Just as Paul warned us not “to receive the grace of God in vain,” we must become doers of the word and not merely hearers of it (James 1:22). Join me in applying grace as a verb to life…starting today!
Always seeking to be found in Him,
This post was also shared on Deb Wolf’s Link Party: