When a person works and receives a payment for his labor, we call that a payment or wage. When a person wins a competition and receives a medal, that is a prize. When a person is honored for his lengthy service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person has not worked to earn a wage, can win no prize, deserves no award, and yet receives one anyway, that is a grace.
Grace is defined as God’s unmerited favor. We deserve death; we are offered life. We deserve God’s wrath; we are offered his love. We deserve punishment and justice; we are given mercy and grace. The Bible is full of the grace of God from beginning to end. This Christmas season, we are reminded of that grace, even from the very lineage of Jesus. Four names of women are included in the lineage of Jesus (against the tradition of the time): three women guilty of gross sins and two foreigners. Tamar and Rahab were Canaanites, Ruth was a Moabite, anBathshebaba was probably a Hitite. Tamar slept with her father in law to produce an offspring after her husband died. Rahab was a prostitute and Bathseba committed adultery. Among the men’s names given is also a list of BIG TIME sinners. Jesus Christ gives hope to a sinful race!
The author of Hebrews also reminds us of God’s amazing grace. “But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” (Hebrews 2:9)
It is this time of the year that we celebrate God’s grace given to a sinful race. Martin Luther put it this way, “Although out of pure grace God does not impute our sins to us, He nonetheless did not want to do this until complete and ample satisfaction of His law and His righteousness had been made. Since this was impossible for us, God ordained for us, in our place, One who took upon Himself all the punishment we deserve. He fulfilled the law for us. He averted the judgment of God from us and appeased God’s wrath. Grace, therefore, costs us nothing, but it cost another much to get it for us. Grace was purchased with an incalculable, infinite treasure, the Son of God Himself.”
Students, we pray that as you celebrate God’s incredible grace this Christmas season, you will also depend on this same grace to live victoriously. We look forward to your soon return and the great things God has done in and through you by God’s grace.
Adapted from G. W. Knight’s, “Clip-Art Features for Church Newsletters,” 53.