Tuesday we talked about how people equate grace and mercy. If grace is unmerited favor and mercy is the permanent postponement of a punishment, then these two words can be used interchangeably. Now that we understand justice better, we can look at this misconception in a different light.
When I sin, justice says I owe a value. Unmerited favor says God gives me a value I didn’t earn in order to cover the value I took. The implications of this model are:
1. Everything ends up equal for me, but God is out a value.
2. We all need different amounts of value so God must give everyone different amounts of grace. 3. This process of “grace” is initiated by my doing something bad.
Think about that last point.
There is NO grace UNTIL I do something wrong. Further more, the amount of grace the individual has is completely out of his control. It is some amount God has determined for the person. Basically, it is all God’s fault.
Charis begins with God gifting a value to the individual…“the divine influence on the heart”. This grace is made perfect when the individual chooses to let this value flow through them to create more value. This is “the reflection in the life”. The implications of this model are:
1. We end up ahead AND God ends up ahead because value is created.
2. God is constantly giving grace to everyone
3. This process of “grace” is initiated by God doing something good.
God’s grace is on everyone…believer and non-believer. It is the individual’s choice whether they let the influence come out. The action of letting God work through you is not something you claim as an accomplishment because it is God doing the work, not you. However, it is an act you can be judged for because it is an expression of your will. All of the blame is ours for not accepting this gift.
All of the verses in the New Testament using the word "charis" match up with the second model for grace. One of the best places to see grace is in the parable of the talents. God gives to each person and they are responsible for letting it come out in order to generate more. The ones who do, enter into the joy of the Lord. The one who doesn’t let it come out ends up where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The other area I would like to address is justice. We will continue to see Biblical scriptures showing how justice works. These passages will get more complex. For now, I’d like to point out a simple passage.
"Be careful that you don't do your charitable giving before men, to be seen by them, or else you have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Therefore when you do merciful deeds, don't sound a trumpet before yourself, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may get glory from men. Most certainly I tell you, they have received their reward." (Matthew 6:1-2)
The passage begins with a qualifier: “charitable giving”. This means giving to someone who can’t pay you back AND you don’t expect them to pay you back. So justice can’t be equaled out from the recipient.
Suppose you and I separately give a value to the needy. If I do it before men and draw attention to myself, this passage says I got my reward. The word “reward” references justice!
The definition of “reward” is “to recompense BOTH good and bad”. (emphasis added) Most people think of reward as only getting good value. Reward in the Bible also means losing value.
However, if you don’t let people see your giving, from whom and when do you get your reward? You get it from God. The when is still up to you…
…we will address your ability to determine when in the coming weeks.