If we’re honest, though extending grace to others is certainly taking the high road, it’s not always the easy road. While being gracious might be the right thing to do, we don’t always feel like doing the right thing. While showing unmerited favor to others is something we know should mark us as believers, often we find that, though the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. So how do we battle this reality? How do we let grace reign?
Something I read this morning in Romans provides a clue, I think.
Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one mans disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one Mans obedience the many will be made righteous. Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
(Romans 5:18-21 ESV)
Grace reigns through righteousness. That’s what I’m chewing on.
Through Christ’s “one act of righteousness,” His obedience unto death, justification is available for all. The condemnation of sin erased for all who believe, as the wages of sin were paid in full on the cross. The debt having been forever erased. The ledger declared eternally clear. What’s more, by Christ’s obedience righteousness was imputed. His perfection credited to those who receive Him as Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord. The filthy rags of sin exchanged for the gifted garments of holiness.
Our right-standing before God having nothing do with our merit or works, but all to do with Jesus’ obedience and sacrifice. The righteousness we possess completely unrelated to who we are, but totally reflective of who He is.
And so, from that position of being justified and declared righteous, grace can reign.
Grace reigns through righteousness. Just as sin’s power of dominion is in the death it is certain to wield, so the power to extend grace is found in the righteousness that has been freely given through Christ’s victory on Calvary. As I recall the unmerited favor shown me, the high road just becomes the right road and I desire to extend to others what has already been extended to me.
Having been forgiven such a great debt, how I can hold other’s transgressions against me against them? Having been freely blessed in Christ with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places (Eph. 1:3) despite my past failures and present faltering, how can I not purpose to love others deeply, willing to let the divine love that envelopes me cover a multitude of other’s sins (1Pet. 4:8)?
“Freely you have received, freely give.” ~ Jesus
(Matthew 10:8 NKJV)
It seems to me that the power enabling grace to reign is the perpetual reminder that I have nothing apart from what has been given to me and that I am nothing apart from who I am in Christ. The righteousness gifted me primes the pump of grace which can, by the Spirit’s enabling, flow abundantly to others.
Grace reigns through righteousness. Not my own, but His alone.
Let grace reign. That God might receive the glory.