When our schedules permit, or when I am not feeling lazy, I occasionally attend a women’s bible study class at our church. Sometimes the class does a Beth Moore study, sometimes it is based around an inspirational christian book, and sometimes the class journals through a book of the Bible. I started a new schedule recently that allows me to wake up before the kids. The idea is for me to have a quiet time of prayer and study, go for a run, and get a shower. When I saw that the class would be journaling through John starting in September, I decided I would also make that the focus of my morning quiet time.
Tuesday morning, I was supposed to journal on John 1:1-18. I was also supposed to get up at 6:30! My youngest didn’t sleep well at all and kept my husband and I up all night. Needless to say… my idealistic morning schedule didn’t happen. Last night before bed I pulled out my bible and read over the verses quickly, but prayerfully, asking God to speak to me through the text.
I knew this was the passage about The Word becoming flesh, but surprisingly, that isn’t what stuck out. In John 1:16 there were three little words. Grace upon grace.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:16-17 ESV)
In a closer look, I realized that John is saying, although God revealed the full measure of grace and truth through Jesus, the time before Jesus wasn’t without grace. This is the grace of Jesus on top of the grace that was already given. Jesus on top of the law. I wouldn’t normally think of the law being gracious. God’s laws can seem like a bunch of rules set up by a demanding dictator. But viewing the law through John’s lens… The laws of God are grace. They are God revealing himself to us and informing us of what we must become to have a relationship with Him. It shows us where we stand before God and reveals our shortcomings. If the laws weren’t upheld, grace was still extended because there was a way to make it right through sacrifices. Now we are receiving the fullness of grace through Jesus. Now grace is available to all people through Jesus.
Grace upon grace. Grace on top of grace. Grace heaped onto grace. Isn’t it wonderful how giving God is? No doubt God lavishes us with grace and has shown me grace time after time.
The Ugly Truth
It’s easy to let our perspective get out of whack. I recently had a friend of mine come over and bring us a housewarming gift (we moved not long ago) and as I was showing her around she suddenly said something like, “I’m going home now because I’m coveting everything you have.” That may seem like a strange thing for someone to say and I think she was mostly joking. But I suddenly understood that a lot of times I take my life for granted. I have an awesome husband, two precious kids, a comfortable home… the list could go on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful. Unfortunately, I become easily accustomed to what I have and I focus on the negatives. Like the comfortable house being dirty, or the kids are screaming, or my husband is out late at work again. I receive so much grace on top of grace that I become immune to it.
Today, I am choosing to be aware of grace and be thankful. To be thankful for not only what I’m blessed with, but what I have been protected from. I’m thankful that grace is completely unmerited and that there is nothing I could ever do to earn it.
What grace upon grace have you been overlooking?