Get Grace and Give Grace
Sinclair Ferguson once said, “The spiritual life is lived between two polarities: our sin and God’s grace. The discovery of the former brings us to seek the latter; the work of the latter illuminates the depths of the former and causes us to seek yet more grace.”
The more we understand our sin, the more we are amazed at God’s grace. The Bible is clear that we are sinners and we have fallen short. The Bible is also clear that there is hope because of what Jesus Christ did 2000 years ago on the cross as He died the death that we deserved and gives us grace! As serious as sin is, and it is extremely serious, Romans 5 reminds us that grace is even more powerful!
20 The Law came in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,
In the words of AW Tozer, “We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal. As it had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinite.” Grace is amazing and indescribable!
In times of confusion and chaos, it can be easy to turn our focus inward. It can be easy to look out for ourselves and be consumed with our immediate needs, traditions, safety and comfort level. What we must realize, though, is that we are called to share grace and love with those around us. This includes people that we disagree with. This includes people who feel differently about significant issues than we do. We are to be people of love, grace and faith. What better time to demonstrate these attributes than during the situation that we find ourselves in today?
In a world where people are confused, where people are losing jobs, where people are losing hope and where people are losing lives we must, as the global church, step up. If you are a child of God today and you have accepted what Jesus Christ did on the cross and you have faith in Him, you must be someone who loves others and is full of grace. There is no alternative! Why, you may ask? Because we have received grace and love from God beyond what we could ever deserve. As a result, we demonstrate our faith in God by loving others and extending grace to all we come in contact with. Is this difficult? You bet it is! Is it easy to love someone who has wronged you? No. Is it easy to be gracious to someone who is disrespectful? No! Is it natural for us to put the needs and preferences of someone above our own? Obviously not! Yet, this is what we are called to do as Christians. We are characterized by grace and love, especially in times of crisis.
25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 And He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How does it read to you?” 27 And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.” 28 And He said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this and you will live.” 29 But wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” 30 Jesus replied and said, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went away leaving him half dead. 31 “And by chance a priest was going down on that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 “Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 “But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 34 and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 “On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 36 “Which of these three do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?” 37 And he said, “The one who showed mercy toward him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do the same.”
Love God and Love Others (25-27)
Love God and Love Others (25-27)
Our outline today is simple in that it provides us with 4 pieces of application from the story of the Good Samaritan and how we are to love God, love others and give grace to all!
How many of us know someone who is very smart? Maybe that person is you, this morning! We all know people who are intelligent and have a lot of knowledge. With that said, there are some people who are smart and are humble and there are others who are very smart and are arrogant. Sometimes these people are so full of themselves that they will even get themselves in trouble because they are too smart for their own good. I had a classmate in high school who fit this very description as he was extremely smart, however he simply could not believe in the existence of God because he had all the answers on his own due to science. Maybe you know of someone in this situation today - if this is you, I encourage you to turn to Jesus Christ and study what the Bible has to say about the human condition and the gift of salvation that is only offered through Jesus, contrary to what other’s might say!
Our story opens up in verses 25-27 with this lawyer standing up and putting Jesus to the test. This is certainly not an ideal situation to be in, is it? Who on earth would put Jesus to the test? One commentator notes, “If you’re ever going to test Jesus, do it sitting down. You won’t have as far to fall when you fall!” This was a foolish decision to put Jesus to the test, but his question is extremely important - it is the most important question that we as humans can ask. How do we inherit eternal life?
This man asks, how can I earn aionios zoe “eternal life”? Do you see the error in the question? This man thinks that there is something that he can do to earn eternal life - sadly there are many people in our world today who think the same way! Instead of earning our way, though, the Bible tells us that salvation is a gift from God that we do not deserve
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
This is grace! Getting what we do not deserve. We cannot earn it ourselves. We must share this with others because there is no room for boasting according to Ephesians 2:9. This is all grace and what we do not deserve. Because of this, we share this great news with others!
Jesus responds with a question - do you have anyone in your life who sometimes answers a question with another question? This can be annoying sometimes, but other times it helps the us comprehend the material for ourselves. The lawyer says that the law says to Love God and to Love Others and he quotes from the Old Testament to arrive at this conclusion
5 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
18 ‘You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the Lord.
These verses illustrate that there is a vertical and a horizontal component to following Jesus. We are called to love God and love others. Sometimes we do well on the loving God part but the loving others part can present certain difficulties, can’t it?
We do pretty good at the “love yourself” part of this concept, but it is hard to love others as much as we love ourself. In a world that is divisive and tears others down, it can be easy to do the same and fail to love people who look, think and act differently than we do as Christians. We might defend and rationalize our actions, but at the end of the day we are breaking God’s Word. We are to love God and to love others because we are all created in the image of God - even our greatest enemy.
Love Your Neighbor (28-29)
Love Your Neighbor (28-29)
Jesus responds to the lawyer by saying that he is correct in his response to love God and love his neighbor as himself. Jesus provides some application, though, as he says to do this and he will live - a quote from Leviticus 18:5
5 Keep my decrees and laws, for the person who obeys them will live by them. I am the Lord.
Leviticus 18 and Luke 10 illustrate the fact that if you obey God’s commands perfectly, then you will live and have eternal life. It’s pretty straightforward, isn’t it?
Have you ever heard the expression “practice makes perfect” before? Regardless of your background, you’ve probably heard this before from either a coach, teacher or parent. If you want to get better then you have to practice, this makes sense, but let’s examine this statement for a moment. Practice makes perfect. If you want to become a great baseball player and all you do during practice is practice hitting fastballs then you’re going to be prepared to hit a fastball but you’re not going to be ready for the curveball! Practicing specific things will help you improve, but you won’t be “perfect” - the same can be said if you practice the right thing but you have poor technique or bad habits. You can practice as much as you want, but practice won’t make you perfect by itself. Perfect practice makes you perfect. Whether it be athletics, a hobby/skill or anything in our life, we can’t just practice and expect to improve, we must practice perfectly/intentionally.
Jesus’ statement tells this lawyer that you must perfectly obey all of God’s commands! That is what God’s law requires - perfection! Friends, this dooms us, does it not? If our salvation was up to our obedience and works then we would be hopeless and doomed to hell. The lawyer knows the right answer - he must love God and love others, but just because he knows the right answer it does him no good because he cannot live it out perfectly as the law requires. The Greek verb for “do this” is a present imperative command - indicating that not only is this something that the lawyer should do but this is a command for all Christians to understand and live out daily, yet we fall short. Therefore, we need grace!
During a season of chaos and confusion, we need grace! We need people who are going to watch out for us and help us out whenever we need assistance because we have needs. This lawyer knew his responsibility was to love God and to love his neighbor, but just because he had the right head knowledge doesn’t mean that he had it all figured out because he didn’t properly understand who his neighbor was.
For most of us, our neighbor is very similar to us. Maybe you’re thinking that you and your neighbor are radically different because you are a farmer and they are not or because you think a certain way and they disagree, but think deeper for a moment. You are likely the same skin color as your physical neighbor. You are likely close in socioeconomic status as your physical neighbor. You are likely on speaking terms with your neighbor. To say that we must love our physical neighbor isn’t that difficult to do because we have some things in common with them. Even if you have disagreements with your neighbor or if they are a jerk, we are still commanded to love them. Why? Because we are commanded to love our God - who loves our neighbor. Do you see how pride can get in the way in this regard from time to time? We like to think that we are special and we certainly are loved by the Lord of Hosts, but our neighbor is as well, even if they drive us crazy. Therefore, we must love them because they too are created in the image of God and valuable in the eyes of God.
Love Your Enemy (30-36)
Love Your Enemy (30-36)
The story of the Good Samaritan is one of the most popular and taught stories in Scripture. We know how the story goes, there is a man who is robbed and 3 people pass by, a priest, a levite and a Samaritan. The first 2, who were “neighbors” to the Jewish man did not help him out. Rather it was the 3rd, the Samaritan, who came to this man’s assistance and displayed the love of God to him in his time of need.
The lawyer was looking for a loophole of sorts, as many lawyers do nowadays. He wanted to know who his neighbor was - Jesus, though, did not lessen what a neighbor looks like, rather he expanded the definition to include everyone we come in contact with!
This parable notes that this man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho - this requires us to understand the geographical context of Jerusalem to make sense of this opening statement in verse 30. Jerusalem sits on a mountain roughly 2500 feet above sea level and regardless of the destination someone is traveling, they always go down because Jerusalem is on a mountain side. Jericho, meanwhile, is nearly 800 feet below sea level. This trek was about 17 miles long but over those 17 miles, the person would go over 3000 feet downhill! Whenever you read in Scripture that someone went “up” to Jerusalem it is not just a statement that people were excited to go to the city, but because they physically traveled uphill, sometimes by thousands and thousands of feet. Can you imagine traveling this distance uphill, in sandals? I can only imagine the complaints that would come out of some of our mouths in this process!
The man travels down towards Jericho and this road is known for being filled with robbers, waiting to steal from travelers. After they would steal from a person they would often beat them up or in some cases, kill them. This man was beaten badly and the next two travelers (a priest and Levite) fail to help him out. The Priest and Levite should have came to this man’s assistance, we are not told why they did not help him, but the point of including them is that they did not act as this man’s neighbor even though they had things in common with him. The priest and Levite did not love their neighbor as much as they love themselves - the wise and proud rulers of the day did not put to practice what the Bible says - to love your neighbor.
Then, along comes the third person, a Samaritan. The Samaritan’s and Jews hated one another. The Samaritans were thought of as “half-breeds” and rebels because they were the offspring of Jews and non-Jews. The relations were so bad in Jesus’ day that John 4 tells us this
9 Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
As bad as the relations were between these people, this Samaritan is the hero in Jesus’ parable. He was an outsider, but Jesus’ point in this story is to illustrate that being one’s neighbor is not based on nationality, race or economic status. Rather, whoever you run into is your neighbor. The Good Samaritan came to this man’s needs and helped him out. He bandaged his wounds and took him to an inn and paid for his stay. He gave the innkeeper 2 denarii (2 day’s wages) to care for this person who could not pay for his own help. This man went above and beyond for a person who was in need, even though they had many differences and they were natural enemies.
Friends, we have people like this in our lives right now! We know people who are struggling with many different things and we have a responsibility as the body of Christ to help others - even those who are different than us! This story illustrates that we are all neighbors and while we can’t solve all the problems in the world and we aren’t smart enough to do so, we can help solve 1 problem at a time. We can give love and grace to people around us. We are commanded to love God and love others, even our enemies and those who persecute us. Even people who act differently or think differently or like different things than us.
Give Grace to All (37)
Give Grace to All (37)
This parable has been highly allegorized to show that Jesus Christ is in fact this good Samaritan. Was this Luke’s primary purpose in sharing this parable? Perhaps, but we don’t know for certain. What we do know is this: Jesus Christ does everything the Good Samaritan did and even more. He comes to our aid whenever we are left for dead. Romans 5:8 tells us that Jesus shares God’s love with us
8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus breaks every barrier and dividing wall and unites us with one another even though we are natural enemies of God. Jesus pays for our salvation with His blood on the cross. Jesus promises to give us eternal life. Jesus concludes this parable and tells the lawyer to Go and do the same as the Good Samaritan to others. To go out and love God and love others, regardless of the cost to our reputation or pride. Why are we called to do this? Why does Jesus command (imperative) this of us? Because we have received grace from Jesus Christ! We were dead, but God made us alive in Christ. Because of our sins, we deserved eternal punishment, but Jesus took that punishment on the cross and offers us grace! Because of this, what should our response be? To repent of our sin, trust in Jesus Christ, to love God and love others and to share grace with others because we have been given grace from God that we could never deserve on our own!
Church, our purpose in times of crisis is exactly what Jesus says in Luke 10:37 - to go and do the same. To love others who are in need. To meet physical needs as we can but most importantly to point others to the only one who truly satisfies: Jesus Christ! What better message to share with a confused world than the message that Jesus saves?
If you do not extend grace to others then you need to seriously reevaluate your life right now, today! Giving grace to others is the mark of a born-again believer. Grace destroys our pride and we can all work at being more gracious to others.
Grace is amazing. We do not deserve the grace that God showers upon us, but we are recipients of His grace as sons and daughters of God. The Bible shares that we are saved by grace through faith - this is a message that we must share with others. The Bible is clear - we are supposed to love God and love others. So, do you love others today? This doesn’t mean that you have to get along perfectly with others and that you can’t have disagreements, but do you love others and share grace with them? We see examples in Scripture of people who disagree with one another (Paul and Peter come to mind!), yet we also see a command from both Old and New Testament to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. We see that our neighbor is not just a physical neighbor but anyone we come in contact with - even our enemy or nemesis - we love them and we share grace with them, even if they are jerks because we have received grace and mercy and love from our Lord and Savior!
We are people of faith as we discussed last week, but faith without works is dead according to James 2. Faith requires action! We are commanded to be the hands and feet of Jesus and we must respond to what Jesus did for us on the cross and we must love others the way that God has loved us - selflessly and with grace!
Prayerfully consider how you can love someone this week and how you can point them to the ultimate Good Samaritan - Jesus Christ, who washes us white as snow and reconciles us to God.