He really didn’t see it coming. He was used to tripping people up through playing on their fears, or capitalizing on their pride, or wooing them through fleshly desires, but none of those had worked on this opponent. With such exceptional responses to all his wiles, it really should have occurred to him to suspect this foe would seek to defeat him by unusual means.
He was used to playing the game through stealth, wiles, and power plays, so the strategy to defeat him took him totally by surprise. Unexpectedly, he was overthrown by weakness, and he was thoroughly confounded by grace. It wasn’t a strategy he would have chosen at all.
He should have been paying attention to Jonah. Jonah knew that God was so gracious that He would be very likely to even redeem those among the enemies of Israel. God might very well hold back on judgment for awhile, in favor of grace.
And he should have better understood the words of the wise woman who told David that God is One who would seek for ways to restore. If he had been paying attention, he might have suspected that this strategy of grace would be in play. Just when he thought he had Him right where he wanted Him—nailed to the cross …dead…out of the way…Only then did he realize his mistake. Only then did it dawn on him that he had orchestrated the death of the perfect Lamb for the salvation of all who would turn to His grace. Sadly for him (great for us), he realized too late that in all his machinations, he was the one who had been defeated, because God was the true Orchestrator, and His grace wins every time.
Defeated, but not done, he continued with his old tricks. Man is still vulnerable to deception. We can still be blinded to the radical nature of God’s grace. We can still follow our natural bent to try to work things out on our own, trying to curry favor with God through our works, instead of resting in His grace.
We can still drown in the cesspool of our sin and guilt, not realizing that such grace is ours that it drains the swamp completely. We need not bear the weight of our shame, because Christ graciously bore it all to the cross for us, and we are fully forgiven and clean.
For others, he deludes them into thinking that grace is a free pass for sinning. If God’s grace will cover any and everything, then, hey, let sin abound that grace may superabound. As Paul would say, “Perish the thought!!!” To think that way about sin and grace totally misses the point. While grace is full and free to us, it cost the Giver of grace tremendously. To treat it lightly and impose upon grace is to prove we do not know God, or grace, at all.
But grace will not be sidelined. It rises up against the lie that it is overshadowed by our works. It shines into the darkness of our guilt and shame, and shows us that Jesus’ work on the cross has cleansed us thoroughly from all our stains. It opens the eyes of those who have misunderstood its nature. It prevails against all these distortions and perversions of its meaning. Because it is God’s chosen plan of salvation, grace will win every time.
Is it winning in us? Have we grown in grace? —Grown in our understanding of what it means, how it is applied in our lives, and how to administer it to others? Or do we persist in trying to earn God’s favor, or stew in our shame, or flaunt our freedom in ways that show we are still bound by sin, mistakenly thinking that God will only wink at us and give us a grace-pass?
We would do well to study this grace in which we stand, until we are so amazed by it, and by the One who has given it to us. In this way we will ensure grace will win in us—every time!
by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries