PASTOR'S PEN: What does grace mean to you?

By Dr. Duane Costello

Pastor of Faith Fellowship Church

"Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also," (2 Corinthians 8:7).

Have you ever watched a dancer on stage moving to the sound of beautiful music and you watch in amazement as the dancer is so elegant, so smooth, so full of grace? When you observe people in the malls, you see all kind of people moving around. Some are fast walkers and others are very slow, and still others, usually women, look so graceful as they move along from store to store.

The word "grace" brings to our minds many different meanings or definitions, but in the verse above the apostle Paul is talking about something much different than the examples I mentioned earlier. The word "grace" in the verse above is translated into meaning "the grace of giving!" That's right, it is referring to giving of ourselves to the work of the Lord.

Many people who love the Lord have no problem giving of their time, and often their talents, to the work of the Lord. This is honorable and it is good. The Bible teaches us to do these things.

However, the apostle Paul is specifically talking about giving of our money to the work of the Lord. Some Christians even are consistent with their "tithing" to the church where they attend. Again, this is not only good, but it is a commandment of God to give all our tithes to the work of the Lord.

What Paul is talking about, though, is we need to learn to cultivate the "grace" in our lives. The apostle Paul's motivation for teaching believers in Jesus to allow this "grace" to abound in their lives was not taken from the Old Testament's teaching.  Instead, it came from the New Testament's teaching. Paul used the testimony or the lifestyle of the people from Philippi as an example. Paul said, "the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia, How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality ... beyond their power they were willing of themselves."

We find the secret of these people in their giving of their money to others who were working for the Lord was because they "first gave their own selves to the Lord," (2 Cor. 8:1-3, 5).

So why did they give themselves to the Lord first? It was because of what Jesus Christ had done for them. They realized Jesus did so much for them. Jesus went to the cross of Calvary and died for them because they were sinners and they needed a savior to gain entrance into heaven.

They saw Jesus' love and sacrifice displayed in actions for them and they in return wanted to honor and give Him glory. This caused the people at Philippi to give of their money to the Lord's work. Not just tithes but in offerings to other special causes of Jesus Christ.

They learned to give even to the point of sacrificing their money to help those who needed to hear the wonderful message of the cross of Calvary! Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 8:9, "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

We Christians need to live our lives to give glory to the Lord Jesus Christ!  One way to do this is to give our money generously to the Lord's work: even when the economy is hurting and our finances are tight. We do this because we know that we are commanded to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the entire world.

When we learn to give this way, we show our devotion to the Lord.  The Lord then, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will use what we give Him to speak to the hearts of people.

So how do you get to this point in your life where you are really demonstrating this "grace" thing by your giving of your money? Well, it won't come as a result of just knowing it is something you are supposed to do. It comes when we rely on God to help us to be able to give this way.

Again, the apostle Paul writes in 2 Cor. 9:8: "God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." In other words, it is God who is able to make you give this kind of "grace" in your life.  You can't do it by yourself or through your intellect or even through your will.  It starts by acknowledging the truth that God desires you to give, even when it hurts to give. You then ask God to help you to be able to give to His work.

You pray and ask God to reveal when and where to give to His work.  The Holy Spirit will then lead us and direct us to know where and when and how much to give to God's work. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will tell you not to give, and at other times the Holy Spirit will tell you to give.  We simply obey His leading in our lives.

Let us believers in Jesus Christ learn to become believers who know how to demonstrate "grace" in our faith, our speech, our knowledge and in everything we do. When we live this way we find joy and peace and a sense of satisfaction knowing that we are doing what God has instructed of us.

Let this kind of "grace" be evident in your life today and tomorrow and for the rest of your life on earth.