“As we work together with him, we urge you not to accept the grace of God in vain”
2 Corinthians 6:1
I recently attended a Christmas luncheon held for the staff members of a large church in town. The lead pastor, knowing I am on my own, graciously invited me to be a part of the celebration. At the conclusion of the meal, each person received a “grace gift,” an envelope containing a $50 bill, and very explicit instructions; they were to go immediately and spend every single penny on themselves.
It’s a very thought provoking exercise, and, for a variety of reasons, is harder to complete than you might imagine. Even though this is the fourth year I have participated, it’s always interesting to observe what the difficulty of completing the task reveals about our struggle to receive grace. But something else that occurred to me this year is that receiving the benefits of this “grace” begins with opening the envelope. If this does not happen, the grace cannot truly be experienced.
In one of his letters to the Christians in Corinth, Paul urges them to “not accept the grace of God in vain.” That Paul has this concern suggests to us that we have something to do with whether or not God’s grace has its intended effect in our lives. God’s grace, by definition, is freely given. But we most open it up in order to receive its benefits.
The Advent Season provides us with an excellent opportunity to reflect upon the amazing gift of grace that God has given us in his Son. May we also be encouraged to consider whether we are opening up ourselves to experiencing his grace at work in our lives.