Sunday, May 02, 2004

The Power of Grace

Grace. It’s a word that elicits any number of competing ideas. For some, its merely what you say before a meal. For others, its something you work hard to earn. For yet others, it’s tantamount to the soft leniency of a super-sentimental grandfather.

Biblically, it appears, that grace provides both pardon and power. It is that expression of a loving God that extends mercy to the sinner, but also provides the means for transformation. In his book, In The Grip of Grace, Max Lucado tells a story that captures this dual provision of grace.

“During the early days of the Civil War a Union soldier was arrested on charges of desertion. Unable to prove his innocence, he was condemned and sentenced to die a deserter’s death. His appeal found its way to the desk of Abraham Lincoln. The president felt mercy for the soldier and signed a pardon. The soldier returned to service, fought the entirely of the war, and was killed in the last battle. Found within his breast pocket was the signed letter of the president.”

Max’s point seems to be that the pardon (grace) extended to the Union soldier by Lincoln emboldened him to fight faithfully through the war. According to scripture, God’s grace not only pardons our sins, but God the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our hearts, transforming us from the inside out (cf. Eph. 1:13, 19-20; 2:4-10).

The soldier in the story told by Max held close to his heart his leader’s words of pardon. This gave him courage—and steadfastness—in the fight. How much more should the words of God’s grace, coupled with the transforming presence of the Holy Spirit give us confidence for life!