Grace and the finished work of the cross are foundational concepts in the New Testament. Concepts benefit us little, however, if we don’t understand the nuts and bolts of their practical applications in our everyday lives.
Today I want to explore the concept of grace at the cross. From the outset I want to state that it is the grace of giving. In fact, that is what grace is all about. The grace of God is the riches of God poured out to us. Can it be a surprise that our grace at the cross is our riches poured out for others?
So, I will attempt to set forth my understanding of the connection between God’s grace and the finished work of the cross and how it can be applied in our everyday life.
I must give myself to the Lord
I begin with the cross. As has been repeated many times we as His disciples are to take up our cross and follow Christ. I would like to suggest that the picture of taking up one’s cross is not one of only bearing a heavy burden. Rather, it was the picture of going to one’s death. Paul takes it one step further when he says that not only is he going to his death, but he was crucified with Christ. ‘I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me’ Galatians 2:20.
We come to the cross to die; to die to our own desires and to live for the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Until we come to that point, we have no hope of eternal life. When we leave the cross, we each leave with life of Jesus Christ. He is our life.
It was at the cross where my sins were transferred on Him and His righteousness was transferred to me. At the cross, His grace was bestowed upon me. I partake of His grace at the cross. The cross is where He gave up all of His rights for me.
And the grace of the cross begins in me when I gave myself to the Lord. This is so important. I can give of my time and resources until I am broke, but if I have not first given of myself to the Lord, it is emptiness – meaninglessness.
The grace of giving begins with giving of myself. I begin to give when I give myself. God is saying: “I don’t want your time, I don’t want your money, I don’t want your brains, I don’t want your talents, I don’t want your beauty, I WANT YOU.”
I must give myself to others
Now, when I truly give myself to the Lord, something amazing always happens. It is at the cross where I gave up all of our rights for Him and for others. Such is the will of God. The first commandment is to love the LORD God. The second is to love our neighbour. John states that if we don’t love our neighbour, we don’t love God. John also says that true love will lay down its life for another.
By the will of God, those who give of themselves to God will always give of themselves to others. Those who give themselves to God will give themselves to others. Genuine disciples are giving people.
I must give myself with joy
Grace at the cross includes giving ourselves with joy. True grace is never a reluctant grace. It is a joyful grace.
We have been given such a great example of giving by Jesus of himself to be our Saviour. ‘For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.’ 2 Corinthians 8:9
You can be sure that it was the example of His giving that motivated me, as it has so many Christians. And the outcome of that promise from the Lord is that I can give myself joyfully and willingly
As I focus on the cross of Christ, I gain greater understanding of the logical and spiritual connection between the cross and Christian behaviour.
Jesus’ willingness to give is an example that believers are to follow. My priority in life is not my own comfort — it is to be a servant in what God is doing and i am to serve Christ by serving others.
His grace toward us should be reflected in our grace toward others — grace not only in forgiveness, but also in the material blessings we have been given and should share.
Shouldn’t the example of Jesus, who freely gave himself for us, move us to great giving for others? The sum total of that richness, and all God accomplished and made available to us in that act of grace. That ongoing grace is life-transforming and is working every second of every day.