August 27: Grace Extended

2 Corinthians 4:15. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

What is the “it” in the verse above?

It is the suffering of Paul. It is the crucified life. All the things Paul has been through, the misery, the anguish, the depression, the affliction. Later in this letter he’ll list the actual trials of his life – the beatings, the imprisonments, the shipwrecks.

One of the questions we must wrestle with as Christians is why? Why live the crucified life? Why choose the life of death? The life of the cross? In 2 Corinthians 4:15 Paul gives us two reasons.

Grace extends to more and more.

Paul says that his life of suffering is all for your sake. Or, as he said earlier, death is at work in us but life in you. When we choose to live the crucified life, it will result in grace to others.

When we embrace weakness as our state of being we admit that we can only move forward in the power of God by his grace. Remember, we are jars of clay. Any and all power comes from God and not from us. Embracing the cross, our weakness, our dependence is what allows us to experience God’s grace, and then become a display of his grace to others. Our ministry, our message, our service toward others is the manifestation of grace. And as others see and experience the grace of God through our daily living, they may also experience the grace of God in their acceptance of his gift of eternal life. A life that now beckons them to embrace the crucified life alongside their Savior.

Increased thanksgiving to the glory of God

But the ultimate reason to live the crucified life, however, is the glory of God. The glory of God is the purpose of our life. But his glory is displayed in us as his grace. Remember what the “it” is? It is suffering. It is death that leads to life. That’s the grace we’re talking about. It’s the grace that we have to land on because we have no other choice. It’s the grace that props us up because both our legs are broken. It’s the grace that pulls us out of the quicksand. It’s the grace that forgives us seventy-seven times a day. It’s the grace that moves us forward under the weight of the heavy cross. It’s the grace that snatched us out of Hell. It’s the grace that will save a life.

That’s the grace that we give thanks for. That’s the grace that glorifies God.

“To live is Christ” is to live in grace. Grace that is displayed and then adopted into the lives of others. Others who then live in gratitude for that same grace. And in the end, the deserving One is glorified because his great grace is displayed in more and more crucified lives.

Is your life being lived for the sake of others? Do you see your life as an extension of God’s grace to others? Are you willing to die to self in order for God to be glorified? How does union with Christ demand that this kind of life be lived out? How does it empower the crucified life?

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