As High as the Heavens Above the Earth
“the lovingkindness of God"

By Jon W. Quinn

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
9 He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
13 Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
14 For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
(PSALM 103:8-14).

God knows what we are. He knows our limitations. He knows we need His patience and mercy. And He is pleased to offer it to us. Toward the end of Jesus' ministry, a sinful woman washed His feet with her tears, Jesus explained her extraordinary devotion by pointing out that she loved much because she knew herself of being needful of great mercy (Luke 7:39; 40-43; 47). The problem perhaps, with many today, is that all of us think that God has only forgiven us “just a little bit.” We do not understand the enormity of our sins nor of our debt to God. This woman was in a much better situation spiritually realizing her very great need for the compassion of God. We need to understand that as well.

Perhaps the key to being what we ought to be is a proper gratitude for the grace of God through Christ. Genuine thankfulness will help us be faithful and growing disciples of Jesus to understand that, at great cost to Himself, His grace covered many grievous sins when we received it. (1 Timothy 1:12-17). The Lord's grace is greater than all our sins. A hymn we sing states: “Wonderful the matchless grace of Jesus, deeper than the mighty rolling sea; higher than the mountain, sparkling like a fountain, all sufficient grace for even me.”

We Sinners Are Saved By God's Grace

Christ died for us even though we did not deserve it (Romans 5:6,8-10). This one single fact alone should rescue us from the misunderstanding that we have been forgiven "just a little" or that our forgiveness was an easy thing to secure. (Ephesians 1:6-8). Whatever our sins were, they required that Jesus die on the cross for our redemption. To even think that our sins are insignificant shows a seriously flawed concept concerning what Jesus went through to save us.

Salvation is a gift produced by God's good will toward us (Ephesians 2:7,8). God loves us. No man has greater love than the love which motivated Jesus to die for us on the cross. We must not belittle this great gift by thinking that somehow we only needed a little assistance with our sins.

Also, it is good to know that no one is too far gone in sin to be redeemed by Christ - (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). This is our hope and confidence. God's grace is powerful, and in this grace Divine we stand redeemed and justified, with an eternal living hope.

Earthly Troubles and the Grace of God

As for temptation, God is faithful to protect us from anything that would be too much for us (1 Corinthians 10:13). This is truly good news! There is nothing that I will face in my future that I, with God, cannot face successfully (Romans 8:35-37).

Oh, but there is a bit of “bad news” as well. This also means that any failings I have had have been because I did not take my stand close enough to my God. Thank God for His patience in spite of this!

As for hardships, sometimes God's will is for us to continue to endure a hardship - at such times, His “grace is sufficient” to help us deal with it (2 Corinthians. 12:7-10). In every case, we may approach Him and ask Him to evaluate the situation and do as seems best to Him to help us (Hebrews 4:16).

The Work of the Lord and the Grace of God
Our sufficiency and adequacy to do His work is from God (2 Corinthians 3:4,5). He supplies us with much of this sufficiency through the Scriptures themselves (2 Timothy 3:16,17). But another part comes from God's providence as He opens up doors of opportunity (Ephesians 4:6,7; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8).

God is able
“to make all grace abound” toward us, causing us to “have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians. 9:6-15).

The person who
“labors more abundantly” is the person who realizes that “by the grace of God” he is what he is (1 Corinthians 15:10). A lack of effort shows a lack of faith; of confidence. Those who give themselves to the Lord's work are those who have gratitude for God's grace.

Stumbling and the Grace of God
God's grace is, of course, conditioned upon our repentance; but when we repent, God is gracious to forgive. God is faithful and just to forgive us because the price for our sins has already been paid (1 John 1:9). Apart from God's grace, any fall on our parts would be devastating and unfixable. But with God...

When he falls, he will not be hurled headlong,
Because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.
(Psalm 37:24)

It is grace that teaches us to turn away from sin (Titus 2:11,12). None of us deserve God's grace - if we deserved it, it would not be grace. We do not look at ourselves as being more deserving of good things than others. We are not. We are saved by grace and the blessings with which we are blessed are given by grace.

When we come to see our own sins for what they really are in God's sight, the “gospel” of God's saving grace becomes “good news” indeed. God is a God of grace to His people. May we be “strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 2:1).

From The Bradley Banner 12/6/2009
Published by the Bradley Church of Christ
1505 E. Broadway

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