“They got what they deserved.” There are times where we have heard this said, or we ourselves have said it or thought it. Sometimes it comes with a joyful sneer seeing misfortune befall others after they have done harm in some way.
Grace is the opposite of this. Grace can be defined as unmerited favor, but another way to put it is: they did not get what they deserved. God shows us his “amazing grace (how sweet the sound)” through Jesus. On the cross, bearing God’s wrath for our sins, Jesus took the hell we deserved that we might have the eternal life of God’s children which we did not deserve as his rebellious enemies.
Such salvation is ultimate grace. There is no greater means of grace, indeed no other means of God’s grace than Jesus himself.
Yet in extending us this grace, God sometimes uses other people as his hands to bring such unmerited favor into our lives. At the end of Job, God answered Job’s request for a hearing with him. After experiencing God, Job replied, “I take back everything I said, and I sit in dust and ashes to show my repentance” (42:6). Job had felt the sting of rebuke for his words and repented as he should.
Then God turned to Job’s three friends who came and provided poor advice and little comfort. God spoke to Eliphaz as the seeming leader of the friends and said, “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken accurately about me” (42:7). But then through Job, God extended his grace: “Take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and offer a burnt offering for you, and I will accept his prayer on your behalf. I will not treat you as you deserve, for you have not spoken accurately about me, as my servant Job has” (42:8).
God appointed Job to be the priestly mediator between him and Job’s friends—the very role that Jesus took for us. Job heeded the charge to sacrifice and pray on behalf of his friends, and sure enough they escaped without feeling the judgment of God. They deserved wrath, but instead God did not treat them as they deserved.
So it is that God sometimes uses the hands of others to extend us his grace. He did this fully in Christ; but when those who belong to Jesus do good to others and share about Jesus, it also is an extension of God’s goodness and grace. Thank God for the grace he has given you through Jesus, and thank him for those who have brought you in touch with this grace. Then seek to be one who is a hand of God’s grace to others, pointing always back to Jesus, the ultimate source of grace.
This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.