"Only by God’s grace"
Often times, we hear the aforementioned words on Christians, especially those who believe in the salvation by grace through faith. This is also a common statement for believers who have survived crises. This is usually mentioned by Christians who, at some point, became wayward, but eventually straightened their path. It’s also stated by Christians who receive blessings, be it material, physical, or spiritual, and are thankful about it because they know that strictly speaking, they’re not worthy.
Speaking of God’s grace, during the 90s a comedy entitled Robingood (Sugod ng Sugod), a parody of Robinhood, in which Filipino actor Jimmy Santos portrayed Robingood. One time, he stole money, as usual, to give to the poor. Then, after the deed, he approached a Catholic monk, confessing his deed and giving the money. The monk prayed to God and it goes something like this: “Father, please forgive this fellow for all the sins (in this case, stealing) that he did…and those sins that he’s about to do (which, in this case, is stealing)! Funny as it may seem, but that’s exactly how we do it as Christians. We will commit sins, sometimes with gusto. Eventually, when the deed is done, we’ll tap our spiritual senses and pray to God for forgiveness. After all, God is gracious, isn’t He? Yes. However, God is also a God of justice, but that’s a different topic. God’s grace should not be abused.
There are preachers, pastors, theologians and their students (directly or indirectly [courtesy of books, pamphlets, etc.]) who say that it’s not always right to use those words. They said it right. Like we said in the previous paragraph, it’s wrong to abuse and misuse (hypothetically) God’s grace. However, no spiritually saved person can ever fall out of grace. Are you talking about salvation? Hmmmmmm, yes…and more. When you say God’s grace, it’s more than just salvation. If we’re saved by grace, then we should live by grace. Living by grace is more than just thanking God because we were blessed despite of what we did. Time and time again, despite our efforts to be good and near perfect, at the end, it’s still God’s grace that works in us, and we can’t get out of it. There are times that we get very frustrated every time we did something wrong. Whether we admit it or not, we felt frustrated, not because we committed sins, but because we felt that WE CAN’T COMMIT SINS or, in some people’s case, we felt that we became stupid. Why? Possibly because we don’t do things by God’s grace.
We don’t have the mind of God, but there is a possibility that the reason why God allows us to commit mistakes (or stupidity in some people) or be outsmarted, deceived, and manipulated by someone is because we highly think about ourselves. We think that we can’t commit sin or be outsmarted by someone by sinning against us (because we think we are smart). There are times that we think this way, “It will not happen to me, maybe to this guy or that guy, because he’s stupid, ignoramus, is not street smart, but not me. I’m street smart.” In others, “I’m above average IQ. It will not happen to me. I can do better than the rest of those below the 98th or even 95th percentile.” In that manner, we are putting God’s grace out of the picture. It becomes self-righteousness, instead of His grace. Worst, it’s pride.
God’s grace is living life as what God wants us to be. God’s grace is rising up every time we fall, be it in sin, business, sports, or in school. God’s grace is being thankful to Him for giving you strength despite of your limited, sometimes sickly, state of health. God’s grace is still doing His ministry while you still have the time, money, and energy to do so. After all, God’s grace is God providing us when we need it most. God’s grace is giving benefit of the doubt to the fallen brethren because we know God will help him if he allows God’s grace also to move to him. God’s grace is thanking God every time we did something good, not thinking that we made it because it’s who we are (and others are not). God’s grace is forgiving others for their wrong deeds. On the other hand, God’s grace is also allowing others to forgive at their pace and not forced forgiveness through manipulation, guilt trips, “my side first” mentality, and troop building because only God can heal the wounds of a hurt person.
As a summary, when we say “only by God’s grace”, we are saying that we allowed God to move in our lives, and bounce back in every failure, sickness, trial, and even disciplinary action. How is it possible? Only by God’s grace.