4 But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, 5 that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) 6 For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. 7 So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus.
God’s mercy and love is given, not earned.
As a middle school reading teacher there is a common phrase in my classroom, “Watch for the BUTS!” (Yes, even I giggle a little every time I say it.) Of course, what I mean is for them to stop and pay attention when you come across this seemingly insignificant three-letter word - but. I want my students to know that this small word can have a huge impact on a story. They know that this tiny word can turn even the best of plots on its head. They know that what follows this word is going to be different than what preceded it. They know there is going to be a change. In Scripture, however, I always look for something that brings an even more significant change - ‘but GOD’.
‘But God’ is quite possibly to two most powerful words in Scripture. In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul paints a picture of the evil these men and women had been guilty of. Luckily, the story didn’t end there. Ephesians 2:4 makes a complete U-turn, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together in Christ.” With those two little words, Paul’s letter changed from a story of evil and destruction to an eternity with the Savior. Notice that it doesn’t read, But the people worked off their debt to God then He loved them eternally. In fact, verses 1-3 indicates that the people had no intentions of turning to God.
As a young Christian, I thought my story went something like this:
I was a sinner heading for hell, but I decided to follow God, and now He’s my friend.
By thinking this, I was always afraid that I was going to mess up and sever my relationship with God and lose my blessings. I was trying to ‘earn’ grace and mercy. However, Ephesians 2:4 reveals God’s gift of life with Him was not of our own merit but of His love for us.
Now, I know that my story actually goes something like this:
I was a sinner heading for hell and eternal separation from my Heavenly Father, but God intervened showing mercy and grace with a guarantee of an eternity with Christ.
Are you living with a ‘but I’ mindset?
Questions To Ponder
How does God change us by His grace in Christ Jesus?
Do you realize the impact this grace has made in your life?
Do you take seriously the fact that you are a witness of God’s grace?
Scripture Memory | April | Ephesians 1:7
“He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.”