Insufficient Grace

For the past few decades I have complained at times about what I call ‘insufficient grace’. I have complained to the Lord and shared my disquiet with people of God from time to time. Let me share my thoughts with you too.

Apostle Paul tells us that he faced an ongoing challenge of a messenger of Satan sent to buffet him to keep him humble, because of the great revelations he received on a visit to heaven.

“To keep me from being conceited because of the unequalled greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” 2Corinthians 12:7

The work of this messenger of Satan caused enough distress to Paul that he cried out to God multiple times to take the thing out of his life.

“Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me.” 2Corinthians 12:8

God’s answer was the God’s grace would carry him through, since God’s grace was enough, or ‘sufficient’ for the challenge.

“But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2Corinthians 12:9

I like that word from God about His grace. It is sufficient. It is enough. We don’t need more than that. It is not part of the answer or a weak prop in our difficult times, but it is all we need, completely sufficient for the task.

When I pray that God’s grace be released to people I am not wishing for them a temporary moment of relief, or the effect of one glass of water on a hot day. I expect God’s grace to be wonderfully complete and to meet their need, solve their problem, lift them through and carry them all the way to the end of eternity. There is nothing else to use than God’s grace, so it had better be enough.

We are not saved by grace AND something else, but by grace all on its own. 

“It is by grace you have been saved through faith” Ephesians 2:8

We are saved by grace and grace is all we need. Grace is sufficient. I would actually suggest that grace is superfluously, abundantly more than we could ever possible need or consume. That’s why it is going to take the ‘ages to come’ for God to fully show off the amount of amazing grace He prepared for us in the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf.

“God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might make a display of the surpassing riches of His grace, demonstrated by His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:6,7

OK, so that’s the background. Now here’s my problem.

I have seen people over the years receive God’s grace, through salvation, or through answers to prayer, healing, wonderful transformation of their circumstances and so on. I have seen people moved to tears as God has turned things around for them. That’s what I would expect from God’s grace.

But in some cases I have seen those who God has touched go cold and walk away from God’s blessing in their lives. For example, I have seen marriages healed and people back on the right track, only to discover some years later that their marriage unravelled and they are getting on with life without any walk with God.

To my mind that’s ‘insufficient grace’. What they received from God did something wonderful for them, but did not bring them all the way through. That, to my mind, is tragic.

And here’s another part of that ‘insufficient grace’ issue. I have seen people wonderfully touched by God, lifted up and given the privilege of serving God and seeing God work through them, yet they have still had areas of their life which are an offence to godliness.

For instance they may be very impatient, or critical, or given to depression or jealousy. They may have weaknesses, selfishness, wilfulness or the like, or pride, greed and lust.

That is also tragic. They have tasted of God’s grace, but the work of grace has been ‘insufficient’ in their lives. For some, their positive testimony is smeared by the areas where they have not displayed the freedom or victory Christ has for them.

Now, I know that God’s grace is not insufficient. It’s the only power source that can carry us into eternity and keep us in the centre of God’s blessings. So I am not blaming God or His grace.

So, what is the problem?

One suggestion made to me relates to grace being accessed by either faith or humility, as the Bible explains.

“It is by grace you have been saved through faith” Ephesians 2:8

“But He gives us more grace. This is why it says, God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6

Maybe people who taste God’s grace fail to keep accessing it because they don’t keep living in faith and they don’t stay humble before God. And maybe that’s a part of the problem.

But then I reflect that back on the preachers, since faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.

“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Maybe preachers are failing to preach truth that inspires faith and that draws people into God’s grace.

My passion is that everyone receive the fulness of God’s grace and that it is never ‘insufficient’ in their lives. My passion is that everyone can confirm what God said about His grace, that it is completely enough in every situation.

And so, to each of you, I pick up the oft repeated blessing from the New Testament writers, conferring the blessing of God’s grace onto you.

“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Romans 1:7

And may you readily find that God’s Grace is fully Sufficient for you in all the matters of your life.

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