A Pause to Ponder God's Word
"Receiving God's Grace in Vain"

My mother was helping grandmom (her mother-in-law) clean out her attic. As they rummaged through the many items that had accumulated over the years, they came across a box that contained a never-used purse. My mother asked her why she had never used the purse. Grandmom replied, "Why, someone gave that purse to me and I never did like it, so I just threw it up here." My mother was crushed, for it was she who had given grandmom the purse. The saddest thing though, is that grandmom had received the gift in vain. She not only rendered the purse useless, she nullified the gift due to the manner in which she accepted it.

Unfortunately, this portrays how some receive God's grace, and is why 2 Corinthians 6:1-2, admonishes Christians "not to receive God's grace in vain." It is a passionate plea - "we urge you." In this plea we see how God's heart aches when His grace is presumed upon or rendered ineffectual. Note, this verse does not speak to those who reject God's grace, but to those who have received it. It begins with, "as God's fellow workers." One cannot be a fellow worker unless he has received God's grace.

How do we receive God's grace in vain? The New English Bible helps answer this question by translating this verse: "You have received the grace of God; do not let it go for nothing." If we receive God's grace and then continue to live as we lived before, we have received it in vain. If we refuse to purify ourselves, by drawing upon God's grace, from everything that contaminates the body and spirit, we receive God's grace in vain. If we return to attempting to earn our salvation, or merit God's grace, or work our way into heaven, we receive God's grace in vain.

When we receive God's grace, it produces the desire to do God's will and know more of Him. The indwelling Holy Spirit provides the power to fulfill that desire. Unfortunately, we suppress the effects of grace by ignoring its prompting. In our well-ordered busy lives the desire for the things of God goes unnoticed, neglected. We want enough of God's grace to be saved, but not enough to radically alter our lives. We want enough of God's grace to make us feel good, but not enough to disrupt our lives. We want enough grace to save us from sin, but not enough to keep us from sinning. We want enough grace to help us in the difficult times of life, but not enough grace to effect the way we live. Receiving God's grace in any other way than through full surrender to God is to receive it in vain.

Receiving God's grace is a daily activity, not a one time commodity received when we are born again. (Note the emphasis on "now" and "today" in verse two.) We should awaken each day with our hearts open and the prayer on our lips - "Lord, today grant me the measure of your grace that You know I need." Let us be fully surrendered to God with our lives postured to receive His amazing grace. Let us draw upon His grace moment by moment, and not resist its work. Let us respond to the desire it ignites within us. In this way we will ensure that we have not received God's all sufficient grace in vain.

Keep Close To Jesus
Pastor Gerry

A Pause To Ponder God's Word is written and distributed by Gerald Whetstone, Ordained Elder and teacher in the Church of the Nazarene. These devotionals may be transmitted, duplicated, used in part or in entirety without permission for nonprofit purposes only. Responses welcome. To Subscribe Click Here.
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