In today’s passage, the psalmist says, ‘How can I pay back to the Lord, for all that He has done for me?’ The Apostle Paul also says, ‘Do not receive the grace of God in vain. Realize that now is the time to receive God’s grace.’ In addition, James writes in James 4:14 that ‘You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.’ It seems that time zoomed by this year, and these scripture passages show us that time does indeed fly. Everyone is racing toward their individual ends, the times of which we do not know.
Noah didn’t know when the end would come, yet he stayed faithful to the work of building the ark in anticipation. God only told him of the flood without giving any proof. How was this possible? Genesis 6:8 tells us the answer: ‘Noah found favour in the eyes of the Lord.’ The word for favour also means ‘grace’. And so we can say that it is only because of God’s grace that Noah could remain faithful to God’s work. It is God’s grace that saved him and made him do God’s work. Those who did not have God’s grace, on the other hand, went to their destruction.
When we receive God’s grace, the consequence is that we please God. We thus need to focus on receiving God’s grace. The Apostle Paul encourages the church in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 that the time to receive God’s grace is now. Why? Because we don’t know the future. It was because of God’s grace that the Apostle Paul could let go of everything he had in order to pursue ministry (Ephesians 3:7-9). May we likewise receive God’s grace to do God’s work. So how are we to receive God’s grace?
We need to find God’s grace in small things first
The Apostle Paul could heal others, but he couldn’t heal himself. He came to God three times, asking for healing from his eye problem (2 Corinthians 12:7-8). However, God showed him that his eye problem kept Paul dependent on Him (2 Corinthians 12:9). Paul’s weakness kept him humble. We also need to confess, like Paul, that God’s grace is sufficient for us. In this way, our problems, our hardships, and our dire circumstances are the manifestations of God’s grace.
Persecution and hindrances never got in the way of Apostle Paul’s ministry. He built and mended tents for a living, and did not demand financial support from his congregation. Even if he was persecuted, he never ceased his thanksgiving. Why could he give thanks? Because he found God’s grace in the small things. As we prepare for the end of this year, let us also prepare for the end of our lives by discovering God’s grace in the small things.
We must remember the grace we have received
God said to the Israelites to remember His commandments by acting upon them (Deuteronomy 8:11; 32:7). When we put God’s Word into action, we keep it and remember it. It confirms God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 8:18). We remember God’s grace by keeping God’s Word. Adam and Eve may have remembered God’s Word in the head, but they did not act upon it. We think we remember with our head, but our lives and actions need to remember God’s Word too. The ten spies forgot God’s Word because they spied out the land with their own welfare in mind, whereas Joshua and Caleb spied out the land with God’s promises in mind (Numbers 13). Rahab did not experience God first-hand and only heard of the work of God. But when the time came for faith, the Word of God within her activated and produced works of faith. We need to store God’s Word, hold onto it, and use it when the occasion arises. When we listen to God’s Word thinking, ‘I already know this’, grace is spilled. When the Word is not applied to our real lives, we lose grace. Grace is the free gift of God that we don’t deserve, but do we apply it in our lives? In other words, do we remember God’s grace?
We need to learn to render(return) to the Lord for all the grace we have received
When we come to understand the Word of God, we receive God’s grace. It is through God’s blessings, providence, and help. We realize that God is here with us. We realize that God has always been next to us, watching over us.
We have been saved by grace through faith, to do the good works which God has planned (Ephesians 2:8-10). We cannot boast of anything other than Jesus’ works. So when the psalmist writes, ‘How should I render God’s grace?’, it’s a rhetorical question: ‘I can never repay God’s grace.’ Parents don’t count their expenses spent on their children and demand everything back when they’re older. Parents only want their children to grow up well and to receive their love. God also has the heart of a parent. He wants us to realize that God is our Father, and to realize the depth of love which He has for us. God wants our thanksgiving, not as a burden or duty on our part, but as a natural fruit born out of receiving God’s grace. We render God’s grace back to Him through thanksgiving and love.
Conclusion: Grace leads us to life
Jesus, Himself is grace. An old Korean proverb says, ‘Watch out for small deaths.’ There are things that lead you to death, and these are small deaths. Laziness, gluttony, debauchery, hedonism, and grumbling are such small deaths. 1 Timothy 5:6 says that ‘but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives.’ Revelation 3:1 says, ‘And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “ ‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.’ There are huge trees which live for very long. However, some of them fall. The outside looks magnificent and strong, but the little insects inside have hollowed out its core. This is the impact of little deaths in our lives. Satan works in this way to destroy our spiritual lives. Satan is trying to eat us up little by little. But it is God’s grace that preserves us against this. Noah, because he found God’s grace, was preserved through the judgement. May we find the spark of grace that leads us all the way to the end, to the final victory.