Greedy Gratitude 30 Day Devotional
Day 2 - GRACE
“But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
Ephesians 2:4-10 NLT
Grace. An describable gift. It’s rare to find. You can’t put a price tag on it. You can’t steal it or try to manufacture it. It’s gentle. It’s kind. It goes beyond your wildest dreams or imagination. One thing we do know about grace…is that God is RICH in it. And, because of it, we are alive in Christ today. What is grace?
It’s the “free and unmerited favor of God.” It’s also defined as “not getting what you deserve.”
Think about Paul’s words here in Ephesians 2 … “the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us.”
Can you imagine what it would be like to be the richest man alive? It’s a fantasy for most of us and no doubt at some point you may have found yourself in the dream as well. I know I have. What would I do with all that money? When I was less mature most of my ideals came from things I could buy or stuff that would appear to make me happy. As I have matured over the years, my fantasy has changed considerably into tangible ideas ...like paying off debt, insuring my parents would have everything they need, and my equipping my children for their future.
God in his great wealth didn’t give us something we could hold in our hands but made us the richest people alive because of what he placed in our hearts. We don’t get what we deserve. That is extravagant giving you know, not giving out what someone might deserve. What is your grace meter like? On a scale of 1-10, how easily do you respond to others -not giving them what they deserve. Maybe it’s that guy that just cut you off in traffic or your co-worker that got that position you wanted because they did some special favors for your boss. Or, maybe it’s someone in your family that has hurt you. That friend that said things on social media that weren’t true. A painful relationship that ended horribly. Maybe even your own child that turned on you.
When Sawat left his father’s home in the heart of northern Thailand, he traded the rice patties for the big lights of Bangkok. This wasn’t his father’s dream for his only son. Mom wasn’t in the picture anymore because she suddenly died and left her beloved son into the hands of her husband. Sawat had always been a good kid. But, this 'old world' way to live seemed futile to him when he turned eighteen. He felt destined to be a part of something bigger, better. His father’s friends shunned the boy for leaving his dad all alone to work the fields by himself. Sawat didn’t care though, what he desired was freedom. And, freedom is what he got. At first, living in the big city was fun. Until his money ran out. He went from one odd job to another often times sleeping on the streets. It wasn’t long before he was trading his body for cash and found himself in the center of Bangkok’s red light district. There, he sold his dignity just to stay alive. Rumors circulated back home but his father poured out his love for his son praying for him while working day after day in the rice paddies. One day, his father received a letter from his son stating his latest struggle…becoming HIV positive. Shocked but not dismayed, his father prayed for the return of his boy. Word got out in that small village and many spoke their opinions that Sawat should never be welcomed back because of the disgrace he showed toward his dad. Even so, his father kept praying. Another letter arrived and Sawat explained in words about how sick he had become. Enough that he wanted to come home. But could he? He let his dad know that he mustered enough money to buy a train ticket and that he wanted to know if he would be loved and accepted by his dad when the train stopped close to their little village. If his dad was ok with him coming home, he was to tie a white rag in the tree across from where the train stopped. Sawat didn’t realize how difficult that train ride would be. Hours of wondering. Hours of waiting. Shortly before the train stopped by his father’s village, he asked the man sitting next to him if he would look to see if the white rag was in the tree. At this point, it was too hard for him to look himself. What if his dad didn’t tie a white rag in the tree? Where would he go then? Up north? Out west? He covered his head and crouched down into the seat as far as he could. He almost didn’t want to know. Rounding the corner, the train railed toward the tiny station before hitting the brakes. Steam sprayed out everywhere leaving a thick fog and then dissipating. “What do you see?” he cried to the stranger. “Is there a white rag in the tree?” The man took a deep breath and sighed. His words tumbled out of his mouth in awe. “Is there!!!! Well, there’s not just one…”
Sawat lifted his head. Out the window sat the tree covered with white rags. Maybe hundreds. Maybe thousands. And there stood his father, holding up a white cloth in his hand.
Extravagant grace. May our hearts never tire of giving God thanksgiving for this awesome gift we have received. Because of what Christ has done on the cross, God has forgiven our sin. All we have to do is ask. Our heavenly Father waits patiently pardoning our gravest of sins. How can we not give away what has been so freely given to us? Like Sawat, we don’t deserve this sort of love but as Paul says in Ephesians, 'we are God’s masterpiece and he has made us new.' That, my friends, is a gift we can only thank him for. That is a gift we cannot help but to give away. Not sparingly, but extravagantly!
ACTION STEP: Find a person in your life today that maybe doesn’t deserve this gift called grace. Maybe it goes deep…a family member, a parent. Or, maybe a friend or co-worker. Reach out today through a text, email or phone call and share God’s love by asking them how they are, how you can pray or take care of a need they may have. Yes, it’s undeserved. But, learning to give extravagantly means learning to give first no matter the hurt. The outcome is always good when it is done with grace.
Going Beyond: Read 1 Corinthians 13 from The Message version. If you don't have the version, you can find it on the You VersionBibleAPP on your mobile phone.