Grace is the most powerful word in God’s almighty arsenal. With it He comforts, saves, redeems, and propitiates His righteous wrath. We sing hymns of God’s marvelous, soul-saving, sin-conquering grace. God’s unmerited favor, poured out in the person and work of Jesus Christ, mediated by the Holy Spirit, is a warm blanket for the shivering soul, an anthem for the blood-bought conqueror, and a goad against which the rebel kicks.
Wrapping our regenerated minds around grace is not just a life-long pursuit. It’s an eternity-long pursuit (Psalm 89:1). And so, I’d like to share with you a recent lesson I received in grace.
Romans 5:20-21 says, “Where sin abounded, grace abounded all the more.” OK, I knew that. Now, tell me, Paul, why does grace abound all the more?
“So that grace might reign.”
Wait! What? Grace doesn’t reign. Grace comforts. Grace doesn’t boss me around. It forgives. “It must be a translation quirk,” I thought. So I pulled up my handy-dandy Bible software and looked up the Greek word basileuo. It means “to rule as a king.” Grace isn’t content merely to be a comforter, it wants to be a potentate.
I’ve always drawn a strong dichotomy between law and grace. The law bosses me around; grace saves and comforts. The notion of King Grace didn’t settle easy on my soul. How can a word so comforting as grace, a concept so life-transforming, so full of forgiveness, be paired with kingly sovereignty? Doesn’t that sound like an inherent contradiction?
But there it is in Romans 5:20-21. God wants grace to be in charge. When I’m settling a dispute, what would grace demand? When I’m speaking to my family, what would grace decree? When I’m responding to trials, what would grace dictate? When I’m working through a controversial subject among God’s people, how would grace mediate?
My resistance, of course, stems from suspicion of absolute authority. My heart resonates with Paul’s words in Galatians 5:13, “You were called to freedom, brothers.” So, how can authoritative grace and freedom work together?
The key is this: accountability and freedom are not mutually exclusive. In fact, in God’s economy, they work in concert. Perhaps an illustration will suffice.
Imagine I come home one day with a gift-wrapped present for my lovely wife. I shout, “Sweetheart, I have something for you! Come here; close your eyes; take it … see if you can guess what it is!”
Now, that’s four commands in short order. And on the rare occasions that I’ve been thoughtful enough to bring my wife a present, Danielle doesn’t say to me, “Stop bossing me around with your Pharisaical legalism, you vestige of patriarchal misogyny!” No, she eagerly stops what she’s doing, excitedly closes her eyes, and quickly joins the fun. Without a thought, she accepts that the commands are given within the context of grace.
[Side note: I have been known to oversell my presents. One time I presented my beloved with a fly-swatter (in my defense, she asked for one). Since then I’ve learned that honey-close-your-eyes moments should be limited to things like flowers, chocolate, or chocolate-covered flowers.]
The law increases sin unto death. Grace reigns through righteousness unto life everlasting. God’s free gift of grace not only gives me the righteousness that I don’t deserve for my eternal salvation, but now wants to rule my life.
So where does the rubber meet the road?
Well, I suppose Romans 5:21-22 has an infinite number of applications. But I sat down one day and asked this question, “If King Grace were to set up a throne in the Baker home and start issuing orders, what would he say?” And before we get too far down the road, let’s remember that King Grace is a born teacher; he trains us to deny worldly passions and to live godly lives (Titus 2:11-12).
With that in mind, how would King Grace kindly, lovingly, and patiently instruct the Baker family in their pursuit of godliness?
I came up with five New Testament commands inspired by grace. In fact, since doing this myself, I’ve asked others to come up with Grace Rules for their home. And here’s the cool part … they came up with almost the same list. It’s almost as if one Spirit of grace indwells the hearts of all believers everywhere (Eph. 4:4).
So, without further ado, here are the Grace Rules for the Baker home. I’d encourage you to come up with your own.
1) Christ Over All
2) Forgiveness Full and Free
3) Speak Truth in Love
4) Rejoice in Today
5) Be Last
In fact, you can download a free copy her design by clicking here.
(Thank you to Serena Boyles for the wonderful artistry — perhaps some of our readers need creative work and might consider commissioning Serena as she gets her career underway; we’d be happy to put you in touch with her.)
When we start with God’s grace and go from there, so many different practicalities are addressed. Grace is big and broad in how it defines family relationships. Yet, grace is subtle and kind when encouraging me to do something so small, something almost meaningless if it weren’t for grace.
For example, the Bible says, “Love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” That’s big stuff: Christ on the cross for you and me. What man among us wouldn’t lay down his life for his wife and children? So, if we’re willing to die for our loved ones, putting pants back on the hangar shouldn’t be a problem.