Not all gifts are intended for the same purpose. If I give my girls necklaces for Christmas, my hope is that they would enjoy wearing them . . . and maybe think of dad sometimes when they put them on . . . but I have no expectation that they would share them with others. My intent is that the gift is for them and them alone. Other gifts, though, are different. I can think of things we gave our girls when they were younger that were expressly given with the intent that they should share them. We’d give them more than they could possibly use or consume with the expectation that they would share the bounty with their sisters or their friends. Grace is a gift like that . . . a gift meant to be shared.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles–assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. . . (Ephesians 3:1-3 ESV)
Not only had grace been poured out upon this once persecutor of Christ, but the mysterious workings of God’s unmerited favor had also been made know to him through divine revelation. And in his calling in Christ, Paul knew that the gift was also given as a stewardship. He was responsible for the administration of both what he knew about grace and of the grace he had known. Specifically, his was to “preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things” (3:8-9).
The gift of God’s grace was poured out on Paul for his life-saving benefit . . . but not for his benefit only. With the gift came a responsibility to manage the gift as God had called him to. To the Corinthians, Paul would write, “For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward, but not of my own will, I am still entrusted with a stewardship.” (1Cor.9:16-17 ESV)
Paul had been entrusted with a responsibility born out of the grace he had been shown. He was to preach the gospel. Willingly or not, he had been entrusted with such an administration and “woe to me” if he didn’t faithfully manage that which had been put in his charge. And I’m thinking there’s application to those of us who have also been showered with amazing grace. That each of us has been given a “woe to me if I don’t do it” calling. That each of us has been given a stewardship of grace.
Not many of us are called to be preachers like Paul, but I’m wondering if we, as recipients of grace, shouldn’t have a mindset that we are also stewards of grace. That, in addition to enjoying the riches of Christ in our lives, we shouldn’t also expect that God has some means for us to steward those riches for the benefit of others. That grace shouldn’t be viewed as only something we have received, but also as something that we are to intentionally distribute to others. Less a gift that we hoard away in our own personal treasure boxes, grace, instead, becomes something that we mindfully expect to pass out in abundance.
Yeah, I’m thinking grace is meant to be shared.
O that God’s people would be faithful stewards of the abundant favor they’ve known . . . for a world of people in need of some grace . . . and for the glory of the God who is the source of all grace.