Text – 2 Corinthians 9:8
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.
All Grace Abound to You
We’re beginning a three-week Stewardship emphasis to consider the blessings that God provides. The Bible verse we will focus on was just read. Today, we look at the 1st part of this verse, “God is able to make all grace abound to you.” Next week we’ll look at the topic of sufficiency. Is there enough grace to go around? The text says, “In all things, & at all times.”
A text speaking of all grace abounding to you provides me an opportunity to talk about what grace means. Ephesians 2:8-9 is a well-known place to go for a foundational definition of the word grace. We are saved by grace through faith & not by works so that no one can boast. Grace is a gift that God gives to us without merit or rank, & we receive it by faith.
You may have already heard of this acrostic of the word “grace” = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Grace is free to you & me, but comes at the price of Jesus’ death. We receive all the treasures of the royalty of Jesus. We receive the access that Jesus has to the Father.
You are a royal priesthood, a holy nation of people called by God according to His
promises (1 Peter 2:9). This gift is given to you through the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. From the Holy Spirit, we receive Jesus & all of His grace by faith in Him. Today I ask you to trust that this wonderful gift of grace has been present in the world from the very beginning.
At Genesis 1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens & the earth.” Yahweh did not have to. There was nothing that required Him to do this work of creation. Grace is something that God does freely & with joy for you. Creation was an act of grace. Creation continues to be an act of grace as daily God provides everything we need for this life. He continues to graciously give us His creation as He provides our daily bread. Generation to generation we build on the promises of God’s grace. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a great place for parents to remember that from generation to generation you are sharing this pillar, this foundation of faith in Jesus, with your children.
When your children rise up, when they walk, when they eat & when they sleep, you are talking to them about what God’s grace does for life. Grace begins this world, & it remains the pillar upon which our life is built. The foundation upon which we stand in a right relationship with God is His grace.
Psalm 19:1 describes it this way, “The heavens declare the glory of God, & the sky above proclaims His radiance.” From Romans 1:20, “…His invisible qualities, namely, His eternal power & divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.”
The truth for each day is that we depend on God’s grace. We stand on the grace of God. While His grace remains strong & persistent in our lives, we are sinful & weak. We knock down this pillar of grace. When we try to stand in the world without God, without grace, we slander its reputation & tarnish its image in the minds of others.
What pillar do we try to stand on instead of grace? On our own confidence, by which we think we can accomplish whatever we desire. Yet, to think we have enough, that we are good enough, or that we have accomplished enough is an illusion. Standing on our confidence & moving forward on that basis, we end up standing on the pillar of fear.
We worry that what we have will be lost or taken away. We end up on a pillar of anger because resentment in us grows when we look at the unfairness of what someone else has versus what we have. Instead of standing on the pillar of grace, trusting God to give gifts according to grace, in sin we try to stand on a pillar of our own doing. When we stand on our own doing, then it’s something we have to keep & protect, & preserve. Then it becomes something we worry about, or we fear losing our grip. The pillars of fear, worry & anger are going to crumble. They will fall down. Relationships built on them have nothing to persevere through tragedy.
Where can we find in Holy Scripture a good place to illustrate the contrast between fear & grace? Standing on the pillar of grace, we trust God will be with us to preserve & protect us. On that pillar we can be reckless & wild in our love for others, versus standing on something of our own making. In Genesis 12, Abram is called to stand on the grace God will provide:
“Go from your country & your kindred & your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, & I will bless you & make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, & him who dishonors you I will curse, & in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).
Abram, his wife & servants, they get up & they go from this land that Abram’s family has been in. They follow the call of God & arrive in the land of Canaan. Abram took with him his brother’s son, Lot. In Genesis 13, the servants of Abram & the servants of Lot have gotten into more & more conflict as the herds of goats & sheep keep getting larger.
Trying to find places of pasture controversy is brewing between the servants of Abram & Lot. Abram has a moment of conversation with Lot, to confess that this is not working:
“Let there be no strife between you & me, between your herdsmen & my herdsmen, for we are kinsmen. Is not the whole land before you? Separate yourself from me. If you take the left hand, then I will go to the right, or if you take the right hand, then I will go to the left.” (Genesis 13:8-9 ESV)
Lot lifts up his eyes & looks around. What an opportunity. It’s like – someone else is cutting the cake, but you get to pick the 1st piece. Lot takes the best. Abram is looking at the land of leftovers. It’s not as green; not as vibrant. It’s not as beautiful with blessings. His eyes are cast down. Lot has shown us that he is going to set his life on what he can build with his own hands. Abram is left with what? His downcast eyes tell us his future looks like dust. His future has collapsed.
But the Lord said to Abram, after Lot separates from him, “Lift up your eyes & look from the place where you are, northward & southward & eastward & westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you & to your offspring forever… Arise, walk through the length & the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-15, 17 ESV)
Abram is told by God to lift up his eyes & walk the length & the breadth of this land. His eyes revealed no blessing, so Abram depended on God’s grace by faith. If Abram builds his life on a foundation of grace, then he builds his life on a foundation that God will preserve & protect him. Abram walks into steps that are yet unknown, & believes his steps will be guided by God.
The land chosen by Lot did produce for a while, but it also produced a recklessness that abandoned God. The land of Lot collapsed. Sodom & Gomorrah fell apart. Abram’s life did have hiccups where he struggled, but he continued to find his life restored by a grace-filled relationship with Yahweh.
The stewardship theme is called, Stewards Walking by Grace. I illustrated that from Genesis 13 to show how Abram walked by grace. I want you now to think about St. Paul walking by grace. At Philippians 1:12 we can see what it means for him to walk by grace.
Paul had been arrested. He was in jail & trying to encourage the churches that he started. He can’t visit them, but was asking them to still trust that God is with them. He wrote in verse 12, “I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.” Paul looked at the world that others believed was collapsing, & he went forward trusting that these were moments anointed by God’s grace. For you & me, to use the gifts that God has given to us, we do not look at the world as Lot did. We walk every step, even when the steps are unknown, trusting that the length & the breadth of our days are measured in God’s grace. Our very lives are measured by the undeserved love & favor of God.
So consider now words of Scripture often heard at Christmas. These passages are filled with promise & hope. The Bible shows us what it means to walk by grace. In 2 Samuel 7:16, the Lord told David that he is going to build a great house in his name. It’s going to be a kingdom that will last forever.
What does David experience? The death of four children, including Absalom, who tries to revolt & steal his father’s kingdom. It can be hard to believe God’s word when your own family is destroying you. Yet David holds onto those words & continues to build each of his moments & days on the grace of God.
When David had a chance to celebrate the death of Absalom, his son who had revolted against him, he does not because he is going to walk by grace rather than by a pillar of anger.
In Micah 5:2 where we hear, “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2).
For generations people look at that promise & think how ridiculous is this because there is nothing coming out of Bethlehem. It’s just a small village next to Jerusalem. Yet Mary & Joseph traveled there, & when the time came for her to give birth, she gave birth to her first-born son. For everyone else, that Bethlehem promise looked like a dead end.
But Joseph & Mary, walking by grace, not knowing how all of their steps were going to be part of the fulfillment of God’s promises, went forward into those steps that were unknown.
In Isaiah 7:14, is a promise that a virgin is going to conceive & give birth to a son, & we are going to call that son Immanuel. From a woman who is unknown, will come a Child who knows all – an amazing promise. God’s grace works in the impossible moments to provide us the faith to go forward into our own impossible moments.
The Bible is filled with promises that only make sense when you know you neither deserve it nor earn it. Our lives are entirely given as a gift beyond what the world would recognize as obvious or clear. As Christians, we walk by grace trusting the promise of God. Even in the midst of our weaknesses, we believe that this grace will be sufficient for us.
We navigate across the centuries. As Christians we have the long view of what it means to walk by grace. We know the journey will seem incredibly long. Yet we will trust from generation to generation like Deuteronomy 6, raising our children from when they rise, when they walk, when they eat & when they sleep. We will raise them knowing the Lord.
Stewards walking by grace through faith still see the divisions of this world as Lot did. And even now it will seem like others get more than they deserve. But we also hear the call of God to Abram in Genesis 13. We arise to look eastward, westward, northward & southward. We walk the length & the breadth of our days trusting that they are the promise of God.
Stewards walking by grace. We will walk with the word as a light on our path. Amen.
What God’s almighty power has made, in mercy He is keeping. By morning glow or evening shade His eye is never sleeping. Within the kingdom of His might all things are just & good & right. He never shall forsake His flock, His chosen generation; He is their refuge & their rock, their peace & their salvation. As with a mother’s tender hand, He leads His own, His chosen band. All who confess Christ’s holy name, give God the praise & glory. Let all who know His power proclaim aloud the wondrous story. Cast every idol from its throne, for God is God, & He alone: To God all praise & glory! Amen. LSB 819:2, 4-5.
Pastor Dean R. Poellet