Many of us love the idea of “grace” but I don’t think we understand all the different aspects of it and what it truly means. If we look at the traditional definition, we see in Webster’s New World Dictionary that grace is defined as:
- Beauty and charm of form
- goodwill; favor
- a delay granted for payment of an obligation
- A short prayer of thanks for a meal
- A title of an archbishop, duke or duchess
- the love and favor of God toward human beings
While I find it disturbing that God is not mentioned until the last definition, it really shouldn’t surprise me. As a generic, non-biblical definition, it’s not bad but then there is so much more to it that that. Even most Christians think of grace only in terms of salvation,
“For by grace are you saved through faith…” Ephesians 2:8
I was this way as well until I really studied the meaning. In God’s dictionary, grace means a lot more,
“Unmerited favor – An exception to the rules we do not deserve.”
As we reflect back on salvation, we see how that all works. We were sinners incapable of saving ourselves, undeserving and unable to do anything to fix it. Christ died for us, opening the door. When we receive, through faith, this grace, repenting and giving ourselves to Christ, (heart, mind, body and soul), we are saved. But then, I found a verse that added a dimension that I had yet to consider,
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus Christ our Lord,” 2 Peter 1:2
This very same grace, that is the gift that saved us, has even more in store for us than I first understood. So the question naturally arose, “What does that mean?” “How do we get ‘grace multiplied’?”
By going back to the original definition of grace – unmerited favor – an exception to the rules we don’t deserve, the thought that this same grace that saved us could be multiplied in our lives is almost too much to take in. As I explore this, I begin to see that this could mean that we could experience doors opening for us that we couldn’t open on our own.
I was reading a story by Chuck Colson when he had gotten out of Federal Prison that applies here. God had put a burden on his heart to serve the men he had left behind. During a discussion at Fellowship House in Washington D.C. with Senator Harold Hughes, he laid out a plan that would require the cooperation of the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, Norman Carlson. Senator Hughes had his secretary call the director to set an appointment.
She asked him, “What was the stated purpose of the meeting? His assistant will demand to know.”
The Senator said, “Tell him that Colson wants to bring Jesus Christ to the Bureau of Prisons.”
Well she made the call and to everyone’s surprise, they not only got an appointment but were put on the schedule for the very next day. This was unheard of in any Washington Bureaucracy. When they arrived and the normal pleasantries were exchanged, they got quickly down to business. Chuck shared their plan, which was unheard of in the prison circles, and would require a miracle.
When he was done, Director Carlson shared a story about a tour of a prison in California with his wife. While they were there, they attended a Sunday Morning service in the chapel. The service was going along as normal when the Chaplain asked the men if they wanted to pray or had any special prayer requests. One of the inmates stood up and began to pray for Director Carlson and his wife. This shook the Director to his core. He didn’t understand why any inmate would pray for the person who was responsible for keeping them locked up.
He looked up at Chuck and asked, “Why would he do that? He didn’t ask for anything for himself – just for me and my wife’s welfare and peace.”
Chuck explained, “Director Carlson, as a Christian we are called to love because we were loved so much that Jesus died for us. That man was expressing his love for you that God had placed in his heart.”
Colson and Senator Hughes were dumbfounded by what happened next. “Let’s do this – whatever you need to accomplish this plan, you got it.” were the words of Director Carlson.
That was the beginning of what is known today as Prison Fellowship. This is also a great display of grace multiplied. Chuck Colson had not done anything to deserve an appointment with the Director of the Bureau of Prisons, much less to open those doors the way it all happened. Only God and His grace being multiplied in the lives of believers could do that.
So the next question is, “How do we get this ‘grace multiplied’ in our lives?”
Well the verse in 2 Peter explains it, “through the knowledge of, and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.”
Peter is telling us that grace is multiplied (i.e., imparted to us), as we grow in our walk with Christ. The word for knowledge in Greek is “Epignosis” and it means “recognition, full discernment, acknowledgement and knowledge” according to Strong’s Greek Dictionary.
This requires that we do more than just study. We must get to know Him. This requires that we seek Him for who he is and not just for what he can do for us. Jesus has already told us this same message when He said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness and ….” Matt 6:33
Jesus is telling us the secret to living a life where grace is multiplied in our lives. Chuck Colson was actively seeking what God wanted for his life and would accept nothing less. This was not easy and there are plenty of other offers pulling at him but the eternal rewards are so incalculably great, the argument had long been settled. Now the angels are singing everyday in Prisons throughout the world as lives are changed by the power of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
Do you want your life to be characterized by “Grace Multiplied”? Begin today by simply asking God, “What do you have for me to do today, Lord? I want to serve you, regardless of what it may be. I want to be the saint you created me to be.”
Then, I want you to seek an opportunity to serve in some capacity. Keep asking and seeking and grace will open the doors which you never know even existed.