Summary: Grace fills the gap between God’s holy standard and the sin that still rages in our bodies.
EOLS: Grace fills the gap between God’s holy standard and the sin that still rages in our bodies.
Romans 7:18-25 (Primary)
The Grace Gap-is my term for the chasm that exists between the ideal of God’s standard, and the flesh in which I live. This very issue strikes at the heart of Christian life.
We use the term Grace a lot in our daily lives. I was just thinking- when I look at the daily parking tickets my security officers issue at the campus where I work, if I see one that needs to be forgiven I write across the top GRACE. We even use it to describe someone who uses great decorum and quiet discipline in their lives. It’s almost synonymous with “class” in our parlance. Even when we think of it in the classic sense it has a whimsical tone. I can give it I can take it.
The Bible is replete with the word from cover to cover. Some of the references are as much as 3500 years old! Words do change over time, and it’s important that we differentiate God’s view of this word which is obviously quite important in His Word. While we could do a three month Bible study on the one word, for this sermon let me solve the puzzle for you and save us some time-simply put, and nine out of ten theologians would agree, Grace simply means:
We are receiving something we didn’t earn and we don’t deserve. Matter of fact we earned and deserve just the opposite. But for some reason-the giver has decided to reverse the verdict and give us a new chance. The old verdict is not just set aside and we don’t have to report to a parole officer or serve probation in a half-way house. The record is scrubbed, purged, clean.
I’ve given you all the acronym before of “GRACE- God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.”
I’ll always remember a daddy-daughter moment with my oldest girl when she was maybe three years old. We raised our girls with loving discipline which included an occasional spanking. We didn’t enjoy it obviously, but we did reserve it for the last resort. We would spank our kids for acts of defiance and rebellion when it was clear that they knew what they were doing and perhaps they were “testing” Mom and Dad just to see if they could rule the house.
I don’t remember what it was she did, but shedecided to test the system one night and make a bid to take over. Something we had counseled her on over and over-time out, go to your room, no videos-all the standard punishments had simply not reached the case. I knew it was time for the spanking.
I went in to talk to her that night with my little paint-stirrer paddle in hand. It was essentially a large popsicle stick! It might crush a mosquito if you really press down hard, but to Stacia it represented cruel war club and was the dreaded instrument of discipline.
I asked her “sweetheart, do you know why I’m here?” We went through the short conversation about crime and punishment and she fully understood why I was there to spank her. I could see in her eyes and hear in her voice not just a fear of punishment or the “I’m sorry I got caught.” I could sense, as her Daddy that something had clicked and she understood this on a deep level. She really was repentant and understood what she did wrong, and best I could tell as a Daddy she had it in her heart not to do that again.
I let a pregnant pause go for maybe thirty seconds; she probably thought it was three hours! I looked at her and I looked at the paddle. I told her “Sweetie, let’s have a talk about grace. This is a good time to understand something about God. I then told her how that God doesn’t give us what we deserve-and I proceeded to preach the children’s condensed version of what I’m doing for you today.
At the end of my mini-sermon (and she was hanging on every word) I said “Honey, I really think God wants me to show you grace this time. I think you’ve learned your lesson already. Her eyes got big and you could feel RELIEF sweep through that kid’s room like the wind! I hugged and kissed her and we prayed as we did every night, and the matter was closed. She was asleep before I could make it to the other end of the house.
A few weeks later, something similar arose. She had really tested me again, and it was time for another counseling session. I proceeded to her room that evening in the same fashion, paint stick in hand. I wondered if she remembered the last talk we had. After some introduction and explanation of what was about to happen, I said “Sweetheart, what do you think Daddy should do with something like this?”