“There But For The Grace Of God Go I.”
We have all heard this quote. Most of us have probably said it. But do we understand what it means? When I heard it last week in church, for some reason it came across with a different slant to it. I believe it was because God was speaking through it.
This quote is attributed to an evangelical preacher named John Bradford, who was burned at the stake in 1555 for crimes against the Throne of England. However, there is much concern that this is not true, as the references to him making this statement do not appear in historical accounts until well beyond the 1500’s.
But it does not matter where it came from. What matters is how we use it today. When I see a sad situation, such as a family whose father has lost his job, I might just use that phrase. Or if a friend is diagnosed with cancer, or when there is a death from an accident, or any number of events, I will most certainly use it. It is usually spoken when we have been in a similar situation, or could easily be and we feel we have been protected from it. But this last time that I heard it spoken, it suddenly took on a different meaning for me.
If God’s grace has kept this thing from happening to me, then did not that other person, to whom it did happen, receive God’s grace? If not, does it follow that this other person does not deserve God’s grace? Summary: there must be sin in that person’s life. This is the subliminal message running through my mind.
“Bad things happen to good people” is another saying often used in times of trouble. However, we do not equate their misfortune with the presence of sin by using this statement, do we? But with the grace quote, we sort of do. It may be a fine line, but crossing over a fine line can make all the difference.
Why would I think that because I have received the grace of God, another person has not? Is it necessarily true that when something bad happens to people they have received no grace? Does God withhold grace in a way that they are punished with grief or tragedy?
Let’s suppose that yesterday I made that statement, and walked away thankful that what happened to my neighbor did not happen to me. But then today, I have a car accident on my way to work, and my injuries are so severe that I may never walk again. Does this new incident negate the fact that I received God’s grace yesterday? Is it evidence that there is unconfessed sin in my life?
Grace is not given, or withheld, in that manner. It is not that we don’t deserve it, although we don’t. It is not that we have sin in our lives, because we are all sinners saved by grace. It is not a roll of the dice kind of thing either, as God knows all that will happen on any given day. He gives grace as it pleases Him, He offers it to all, and He does not withhold it, as He is not a respecter of persons. His grace is a gift. He knows when it is needed, and when it is not, but He never denies us His grace.
Grace rains down His grace on His children. We only need to believe, love, and honor our Lord and He will give us His precious grace. Just because a believer goes through a trial or experiences difficult circumstances does not mean that grace has not been extended. We must never assume that; what God gives to one believer He will give to the next one … and the next one … and the next one.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
When have you thought about the grace God extends to you? Or do you feel that He has not extended grace on some occasion? Please go to www.mystoryofgrace.com and share your story with us!