“The LORD, the LORD, a God… gracious….” — Exodus 34:6
What a faith-creating, love-begetting, pride-slaying, soul-singing truth: Our God is a God of grace! Peter declares that He is “the God of all grace” (1 Pt 5:10). Being gracious is part of who God is. Giving grace does not go against His Person, rather, He delights to show grace. According to Paul, God is a lavish grace Giver (Eph 1:7(b)-8(a)).
I hope you can take a few moments to rejoice in these biblical truths of the God of grace:
He is the God of common grace–Jesus said, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:45). God greets His friends and His enemies with the same morning light! He feeds both friend and foe!
He is the God of sacrificial grace–“For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Cor 8:9)
He is the God of saving grace–“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Eph 2:8,9)
He is the God of sufficient grace–“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” (2 Cor 9:8). “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me… when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor 12:9-10)
He is the God of sanctifying grace–“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.” (Titus 2:11-12)
He is the God of super-abounding grace–“…but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20).
He is the God of sustaining grace–“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (Jude 24-25)
The God who saves us by grace through the super-abounding gracious sacrifice of the Lord Jesus is the God who sufficiently graces us to daily battle sin, work for Him, endure through trial, and persevere to the end. Brother and sister, the God of all grace is enough!
God of grace, amazing wonder, so immeasurable and free; Oh, the miracle of mercy, Jesus reaches down to me. God of grace, I stand in wonder, as my God restores my soul. His own blood has paid my ransom, awesome cost to make me whole.
God of grace, who loved and knew me long before the world began, sent my Savior down from Heaven, perfect God and perfect man. God of grace, I trust in Jesus; I’m accepted as His own. Ev’ry day His grace sustains me, as I lean on Him alone.
God of grace, I stand astounded, cleansed, forgiven and secure; All my fears are now confounded, and my hope is ever sure. God of grace, now crowned in glory, where one day I’ll see Your face; And forever I’ll adore You in Your everlasting grace. — Keith Getty & Jonathan Rea
“Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!” Ps 119:36
The psalmist knows the dangers within his own heart. He knows that if his eyes aren’t fixed on his God, then he will drift toward selfish gain. And, he knows that for his eyes to be fixed on God, he must look to the Word of God, for it contains the “testimonies” of God. In other words, “selfish gain” (or self-interest and self-advance) is always a threat to the priority of the Word in our pursuit of God.
With that in mind, let’s consider 3 ways that we remove the priority of the Word for self advance.
1. We outright reject it. Maybe we don’t like something it reveals about God. Maybe, we feel uncomfortable with what it says about us. Or, maybe, we just feel that the Bible is a little behind the times and overbearing. Whatever the case may be, our self feels threatened, so we opt to simply reject God’s Word. We choose “selfish gain” over “his testimonies.”
2. We neglect it. Our hearts may be so overrun with “the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things” (Mk 4:19) that we no longer have time, energy, or interest for the testimonies of God. We no longer see the need for it; we are too busy advancing our selves, so we neglect the Bible to the detriment of our souls.
3. We use it. Sadly, not only are we capable of using people, but we can even use the Bible out of a motivation for selfish gain. Pastors and preachers must especially be on guard against this temptation. Peter exhorted the elders to shepherd the flock “not for shameful gain.” Paul was aware of “peddlers of God’s word” (2 Cor 2:17) and that “some preach Christ from envy and rivalry” (Phil. 1:15). But preachers aren’t the only ones who can use the Bible for self-interest. All of us need to guard against a mere utilitarian approach to the Bible that sees God’s word as a stepping stone to a better………(you fill in the blank). Selfish gain stands behind this approach to God’s testimonies.
The Psalmist knew the dangers of selfish gain, so he prayed that God would incline his heart to the testimonies of the Lord. He desired to know his God and in that knowledge to walk in His ways and before His face.
What about you and your Bible? Are you guilty of rejecting it, neglecting it, or using it for the advance of your self? If so, repent and look again to the Lord Jesus who perfectly understood, kept, and fulfilled the Word of God not for self advance but for the salvation of selfish sinners. In His name we can find forgiveness and pray with the psalmist, “Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.”
Chuck Cook is the pastor of Grace Bible Church - Rolla.