For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
“Grace upon grace” – what does that even mean? It sounds beautiful. Poetic, really. But is there any depth to these words? They may have been relevant in the disciples’ day, but do they have any meaning for us today? Are they still relevant?
In a single word: Yes.
God’s grace doesn’t change over time. Neither does His mercy, His righteousness, His omnipotence, His love – none of His attributes are susceptible to time. He is Constant.
“Grace upon grace” is still available to us today. “Grace upon grace” is still lavished on us in this age. “Grace upon grace” is what binds us all together. In Philippians 1:1-11, we see the joy, excitement, and love Paul has for those in Philippi. We see his heart for his co-believers, how he “yearns for them with the affection of Christ Jesus” (v.8). Why does he feel such a way towards them? Because of their partnership in the gospel (v.5), because they are all partakers of GRACE (v.7) – the SAME grace of God.
In Part 1 & Part 2 of this series, we’ve established that all of us, as unique as we are, have been made part of a single story – His story. How? By His mercy and grace, which He showed in no partiality. We also established that there are four types of people in this world, as evidenced by Psalm 107. Here’s a recap:
- “Some wandered” (v.4)
- “Some sat in darkness” (v.10)
- “Some were fools” (v. 17)
- “Some saw the deeds of the Lord” (v.23-24)
Four different pasts. Four distinct paths. Four unique stories of redemption.
Some were fools through their sinful ways,
and because of their iniquities suffered affliction;
they loathed any kind of food,
and they drew near to the gates of death.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He sent out his word and healed them,
and delivered them from their destruction.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wondrous works to the children of man!
And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,
and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!
Some of us were fools. Although we knew there were consequences for our actions, we refused to consider them. We weren’t ignorant of our sin; we knew what we were doing and we didn’t care. We simply preferred to live according to our own will. We wanted to “live life to the fullest.” We embraced the foolish ideology modernly presented in the term “YOLO.” We wanted to feel our hearts race, we wanted to experience every high. We chased thrill after thrill. We filled ourselves with the “best” this world had to offer. It was intoxicating. But eventually, no high was high enough. No adventure gave us the rush we were searching for. It all became such a bore. That boredom quickly turned into emptiness. We realized the things that once satisfied our hunger for life left us feeling more hollow than before. Hard as we tried, nothing could fill the gaping hole in our souls. We thought we were living life to the fullest… we quickly discovered the exact opposite to be true. Our hearts were hollow, as were our souls. The nagging emptiness grew with each day. We had lost our will to do, to be. At our lowest, we finally cried out to the Lord! We cried out to Him about the agony and despair of the emptiness that filled us. And by His mercy, in His grace, He delivered us from our destruction! Out of His fullness, He poured His love and grace into our empty places, filling us to overflowing! Despite our foolishness, He did not withhold His love from us! He led us away from the path of folly and onto the path of life abundant!
Note the escalation of this particular “redemption story:”
- Man foolishly chased every worldly pleasure
- Man reached the end of themselves
- Man humbled themselves and cried out to God
- The Lord delivered man from their specific distress in the most fitting way
- Man thanked God for His love and providence
Fellow former fools, how have we responded to His grace and mercy? Have we thanked Him for His love and providence? Have we praised Him for saving us from ourselves, from our own foolishness? Perhaps we have thanked and praised Him for His marvelous works in our lives. But have we done so with sincerity? Do we still express our praise and thanksgiving? Are we simply mumbling meaningless words to Him out of obligation or are we praising Him in Truth and Spirit? Ours should be a continuous, genuine worship.
To all those still labeled a “fool”: Know that it’s never too late to turn things around. Know that you can still live the life you have been called to live if you turn from the foolish things of the world! Our God is a merciful God! He is a loving and gracious God! He extends “grace upon grace” to you. Take hold of His hand. Let Him show you what it means to really live! Let Him give you LIFE abundant! That’s what He promises you in John 10:10. Don’t let this world deceive you; don’t fall for the transient and quickly fading thrills of this world. Nothing will satisfy like Jesus! Nothing CAN satisfy like Jesus! Friends, you don’t have to be defined by your actions. You don’t have to be defined by your past. You don’t have to be labeled a “fool” for the rest of your life. Let Jesus make you new. Let Him redefine you as His. And as you embrace the new identity He gives you, as you walk in His wisdom, will, and way, thank Him for His goodness. Praise Him for His wondrous works towards YOU!
And “fool” shall no longer be your name, but “ransomed, redeemed, child of God.”