Jump Start # 3344
Titus 2:11-12 “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age.”
The grace of God—those very words make some nervous. We know that we are saved by grace, yet we seem to always have to put an asterisk by that expression. It’s like the ole’ baseball player, Roger Maris. In 1961, he hit 61 home runs that season. That broke the decades long record held by the legend Babe Ruth. However, baseball had extended the number of games by that time and Maris actually played in more games in a season than Ruth did. So, for years in the record books, Maris was at the top of the charts for most homeruns in one season, but there was always an asterisk, indicating that he played in more games.
And, when it comes to grace, our asterisk always includes repentance, baptism and living a godly life. We are saved by grace, but…We often fear unless we include those other things, some might get the idea that grace is it. They might conclude that God does it all and we just sit back and enjoy the ride. But anyone serious enough about God, ought to look at what God says and they’d see that grace has conditions. If it didn’t, then everyone is saved and no one is lost.
Our verse tells us that grace has appeared. What a wonderful message that is. It appeared doing two things. First, it appeared bringing salvation. We are saved by grace. And that grace is for all people. Not a specific race, not a specific nationality, but rather to all men. The grace that has saved you, saves me. The grace that saved those first disciples, saves people today. That grace has a name and it is Jesus. Jesus has appeared. The redeeming salvation that came through His death and resurrection is what changed the course of our eternity. Hope abounds because of Jesus.
Second, grace instructs. Grace teaches. Grace isn’t finished with salvation. There is something that follows. That godly, righteous life is what grace teaches us. Given a second chance, we don’t go back and make the same mistakes again. We’ve learned. Grace has taught us. What we did, didn’t work. What we did, was sin. What we did, took us away from God. Now that grace has appeared, we do better. We live as if we have sense, and not as an animal. We live the right way or righteously. And we live godly, pleasing our Father in Heaven.
Without grace there is no salvation. Without grace we don’t make it. Some thoughts for us:
First, perfect as we try to be, we are not. We fail. We fumble. We sin. We see others doing the same. Some are quick to want to bring thunder from Heaven upon them. And, through this, we leave the impression upon the young and the new, that if you make a mistake, you’re out. God will have nothing to do with you. What terrible fear and guilt fills the heart with such thoughts. Until we repent, God will have nothing to do with you, is how many see it. And, from this twisted thinking, grace has been left out. Worship is a mere exercise in hearing how bad we are and the image is left of “wait until your Father gets home,” fear.
But, that’s not the message we get from the Psalms. That’s not how the apostles viewed it. Gracious, forgiving and merciful is the image they paint of our Heavenly Father. He is a God that longs for us. At our best, we are not very good, but God’s love is greater than all of that.
On the back of my office door, I have several stick figure pictures drawn by my grandchildren. Several are supposed to be me. I love looking at them. If I were to list them on Ebay, I’d get no bids. If I took them to the Louisville art museum and asked if they’d like to display them, I’d likely be laughed out of the building. But they are precious to me. Drawn in love, given in kindness, and displayed as masterpieces, they remind me of what my work must look like to the Lord. The Master who authored this amazing Bible, must smile as He sees these Jump Starts and think, ‘How cute.’ But, knowing the love, effort and joy put in to them, He sees our work as masterpieces.
Second, grace changes us. It’s more than simply getting a mulligan in life. It’s an opportunity to learn and to do things right this time. It’s seeing our sins and what led to those lousy choices. It’s seeing the way that God expects us to live. And, through that, we become better, stronger and more Christ-like.
There is many a person I have met through the years that had believed and was baptized, but little did they change. Same smug and selfish attitudes. Same greedy, tightwad, keep it all to myself spirit. Same pointing the fingers at others and quick to judge and quicker to condemn. Oh, they sit in a church building on a Sunday, but grace hasn’t filled their hearts. Jesus is described in John’s Gospel as being full of grace and truth. Full of grace—wouldn’t that be wonderful if that was said of us?
Kindness, compassionate, forgiving, going out of the way to help, those are the qualities of a person who has spent time with Jesus. Godly. Righteous. A true disciple. Changed by the grace of God.
Third, there seems to be a passing of the baton through our passage today. God has extended His grace to us and as it changes us and we learn from that, we become gracious to others. We become a little slower to make a comment that condemns. We are less likely to see what is wrong and more able to praise what is right. Complaining is pushed out by a thankful heart. And, within our families and within our fellowship, the grace of God runs richly through us. The spirit of helping rather than driving away takes over.
We’ve received grace so that we can extend grace. What a beautiful gift God has shared with us. We have been forgiven so we can forgive others. We have been given hope so we can give others hope. The grace of God doesn’t stop with us. It merely flows through us. A powerful image and a powerful picture of simply sharing what has been shared with us.
The grace of God has appeared…