Turning Grace Upside Down

The act of grace requires two separate parties. The grace act also necessitates that an act of sin be involved. Without sin there would be no need of grace.

In the Garden of Eden prior to the fall, Adam & Eve related to each other and to God in a state of innocence. They had no need of receiving or extending grace in either their marital relationship with each other or in their spiritual relationship with God. But once sin entered, grace became necessary to maintain any semblance of relationship.

Since we live in a thoroughly fallen world and are ourselves fallen, we cannot hope to be rightly related to God without grace. He extends grace to us and we receive grace from him. We also cannot hope to have relationships of fellowship without giving and receiving grace to and from each other.

However it seems that in our modern world, we have flipped grace relationships upside down. When we sin against God, we are tempted to presume upon his gracious nature. When we do so, we have lost the entire meaning of grace. A proper understanding would be that we are deserving of God’s wrath as a result of our sin. It is grace when God does not do execute the natural response of judgment. When he declares us righteous based on Christ’s life and death, we experience grace.

Understanding that being declared a friend of God rather than his enemy is a magnanimous demonstration of grace. It should always stir awe and worship within us.

Likewise we get grace upside down when we think of our human relationships. When we sin, we have a tendency to expect grace to be extended to us by the offended party. It is not grace if it is rendered as an obligation. When we are sinned against, we tend to become moralists demanding a relationship without offense.

That is standing grace on its head or turning it upside down.

If we sin, we should confess that sin. But the act of grace is left to the one offended. Our active movements of grace arrive when we are the offended party and we do not hold the offense to the account of the other person. This should be the point of focus for us.

So let us strive for a high standard in our dealings with others. Labor not to sin against your brother. But should your brother sin against you, strive to grant forgiveness and display grace. Let us not hold others to a higher standard and make them “earn” our grace. That would be turning grace upside down.