Reformed theologians developed the idea of God’s common grace, which includes His undeserved kindness to all of humankind. For example, Jesus taught us that God brings out the sun and the rain for everyone, for good as well as for bad people. While none of us deserve this, He freely gives this common grace to all. This is different from God’s special grace, which is only for those who are in right relationship with Him. For example, as His children, we receive the Holy Spirit. Here God also gives us grace, but it is not freely given to everyone - only to those walking in covenant relationship with Him.
Earlier this month I was outside, clearing snow. I was not entirely well and waiting for a call from the doctor for a phone consultation. As I went to get another snow shovel, I walked a path I normally never take, right past a large wooden cross in our grounds. Exactly when I was passing at the foot of this cross, the doctor called. We spoke and she prescribed some medication, for which I was very thankful. At that very moment, I felt overwhelmed by God’s kindness in making medical help available to me. I felt like He was wrapping His kindness all around me, even though I had done absolutely nothing to earn it.
As I stood at the cross, I realised just how much I had come to see God’s kindness to me in relation to my own good behaviour. I had forgotten just how much everything He gives us comes from His heart of grace. Sometimes this is grace which can be described as ‘special grace’, sometimes it could be said to be ‘common grace’. Nonetheless, the root of all the things God gives us is in His kindness, not in our performance.
Common grace means that God freely gives to all of humankind, even the wicked. He loves everyone, not just Christians. I am challenged by the Bible verse that starts with the words ‘God so loved the world’. Do I love the world, too? Or do I feel ever so slightly superior to those who have not yet come into relationship with God through Jesus? Have I come to feel that I somehow am more deserving of God’s kindness than others?
For today, I suggest we take time to thank God for all those elements of common grace He freely bestows on all of humankind. The sun, the rain, every new day and every single breath are all part of God’s grace. As we do so, let us ask the Lord that we would have the same heart towards everyone that He has, whether we feel people deserve grace or not.
Prayer: Father, I praise You because You are gracious and merciful. Thank You for all You give me so freely. Help me to have the same heart towards others, both good and bad. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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