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God’s Word for You

Numbers 6:25b Grace

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, July 7, 2021

... and be gracious to you.

We need to look at grace from two angles. The first is to see grace as it comes from God. Grace is a unique kind of love that God has. No one else truly has this kind of love. It is love we don’t deserve, and it is a love that is God’s constant attitude. He loves because it is his nature to love. So when we think of God’s love, we don’t see anything deserving in the thing he loves; what we see is that God always loves because God is loving; because God is love (1 John 4:8,16).

The other angle of grace is to see it as it comes to us. This is the same way that weather comes to us, whether that weather is rain, snow, heat, or storm: we are passive. God is the one who is active. We receive God’s grace, but it comes without us deserving or earning it in any way.

Let’s try an experiment. Almost everyone has more than one kind of music that they love. In your mind, set all of that aside. Now, think of some style of music that you really, really dislike. Maybe you even hate it. I hesitate to offer any forms, but maybe you don’t like the twanginess of Rockabilly. Maybe you love good Classical and Baroque music but you’re appalled by the hideous innovations of Wagner. Or maybe you just can’t abide the slack-key guitar style of 70s Hawaiian pop music, or Indian Bollywood music, or maybe you don’t like anything produced after 1999. Or maybe it’s whatever that kid down the block has blaring out his windows whenever he drives past your house. Now, settle down with your shuddering and your inner comments, and imagine a person you know who positively loves a kind of music that you really hate. That’s a picture of someone who loves what you consider to be unlovable. That, to you, is a little snapshot of grace.

Another aspect of God’s undeserved love is that God constantly seeks the ultimate good of the one he loves. That may mean that he needs to teach us, correct us, discipline us, and even chasten us. A few weeks ago my family got three new kittens. Kittens are fun to have around, but they need a little training to have in the house. We had to train them to use the litter box and not to use the whole house as a bathroom. That kind of training is not difficult, but it needs to be done. In the same way, God lovingly trains us to live in a way that pleases him, that is in step with his design, and that is good for the rest of the world and the plans he has for everybody else.

In the first part of this verse, we saw that God turns his face toward us to give us all sorts of blessings in a general way. Here, that general and pleasant disposition of God is focused sharply to each and every one of us for our particular and ultimate good: the salvation of our souls. Since we are saved through faith in Christ (Luke 7:50; Ephesians 2:8), God graciously gives us the faith we need through certain means. We call these means “the means of grace,” the gospel that comes to us in the word of God and in the sacraments. We put our faith in Christ through the preaching of the gospel (John 17:20), we are saved through the sacrament of holy baptism (Ephesians 5:26; 1 Corinthians 6:11), and God’s forgiveness and salvation come directly to us in the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-28; 1 Corinthians 10:16-17). Don’t forget that “the word planted in you can save you” (James 1:21).

Finally, we want to remember that although God works his grace through these particular means, he could, in his infinite power, simply create faith in human hearts in some other way such as planting it without any means at all, directly and immediately. However, he tells us plainly that he doesn’t do that. It pleased God to offer and to give his salvation in seemingly foolish ways, such as preaching, washing, eating, and drinking (1 Corinthians 1:21). Think of Paul’s greeting in Galatians, which is so familiar to us: “Grace and peace to you from God, etc.” (Galatians 1:3). When Paul wrote those words, they were brand new; they had never been heard before or understood as a pair before. Those two words contain the summary of all our Christianity. Grace contains the forgiveness of sins, and peace (the quiet conscience, no longer terrified by hell) is not possible without grace. This is the grace God pours out on you, and as with everything in Aaron’s benediction, it is not merely to everybody in general, but to you, personally. Because God loves you.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

 

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