How does God’s grace help us? How does the grace of God empower us?
Through the grace of God we can be helped in every way we need help. Grace, by definition, is a gift we do not deserve. Everything we have that is good is from God. Since we do not deserve anything from God, everything from God is by his grace.
God’s Grace Helps Us Physically and Spiritually (Common and Special Grace)
When Christians hear the word “grace,” I think we usually instantly think of “saving grace.” And this is right. God’s greatest gift to humans is the gift of salvation through the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are saved “by grace,” which means our relationship with God is not based on our merit but on the transferred merit of Jesus Christ placed on us as a free gift from God.
The type of grace that restores our relationship with God through Jesus is theologically referred to as “special grace.” Special grace is when God opens the eyes of a sinner and illuminates the truth about himself to that person. It is “special” in many ways, but the word “special” refers to its lack of common use by everyone. Saving grace is not experienced by the whole world but only by Christians.
“Common grace,” on the other hand, is God’s grace that every human experiences. Common grace does not refer to our restored relationship with God but rather to the gifts God gives both to the saved and the unsaved, to his church and to the world.
In other words, special grace affects us spiritually and common grace affects us physically and materially. Whether it be the food you eat or the job you have that earns you the money to buy that food, all that is from God. Whether it be the sleep you get that helps you stay in self-control or the anti-depressants the doctor has prescribed so you can stay in self-control by not having such dramatic mood swings because of your biological deficiencies, all that is from God. Whether it be the air you breathe or the heater in your home which warms the air in the winter time, all that is from God.
Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. 18 Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:16-18)
“. . . nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:25)
“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)
Since all things are from God and since no human deserves anything from God, all good things humans have are by God’s grace. When God restores our relationship with him through faith in his Son, this is by special grace. When God gives the world the things we have, this is by his common grace. But in short, all good things, spiritually and physically, are given to us by grace.
God’s Grace Helps Us Glorify Him in Good and Bad Times
Keeping our eyes on the glory of God gives us hope through the hard times and gratefulness when times are good. Earth has two trenches constantly trying to suck us in. We will only stay on the level ground when our thoughts are rightly fixed on our Father in heaven. God’s grace helps us through each of these earthly experiences often referred to as “good times” and “bad times.”
When times are hard, by God’s grace we are able to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are empowered by his grace to reflect God’s character in our difficult circumstances. We are empowered by God’s grace to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us, and to do forgive those who have sinned against us. By staying focused on God’s glory and beauty, seeking pleasure in him when this earth offers us no pleasure, we are sustained and can find joy in him. We can rejoice in the Lord always even when life is hard because God is always good and loves us (Philippians 4:4, 1 John 4:19).
When times are good, by God’s grace we are able to keep our eyes on Jesus. We are empowered by his grace to reflect God’s character in our easy circumstances. We can often depend on God to do hard things, but perhaps the hardest thing to do is to depend on God when times are good. Our sinfulness expresses itself boldly when we so easily forget God in good times. Only by grace are we able to enjoy good earthly gifts which are from God while not turning them into idols. Without the grace of God, an easy life will turn into one of the worst curses of all.
The point of our life is not to have an easy or hard earthly experience. Our aim as God’s people is not ultimately a simple or busy schedule. God’s saints and their lives are as varied as the snowflakes which fall from heaven. Our true purpose is to glorify God no matter what our life looks like. Our true aim is to seek to love, honor, and obey God at all times, in easy and hard circumstances.
Whether you be depressed because of an chemical imbalance or whether you find relief from this biologically based depression through the use of an anti-depressants, in both life experiences the Christians pursuit is to glorify God at all times. Whether warm or cold, well fed or hungry, as a slave or free, through the grace of God we are empowered to honor our Lord. Look at the effect God’s grace has on us (2 Corinthians 6:1) in both easier and harder earthly experiences (2 Corinthians 6:2-10):
Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,
“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.”
God’s Grace Helps Us Work Harder and More Joyfully
Lastly, God’s grace helps us by empowering us to serve the Lord. We are not saved by works. We are saved by grace. But when God’s grace settles on a man or woman, it is not without dramatic effect. Now every spiritual blessing received through special grace and every physical blessing received through common grace can be used for the glory of God as we work to serve him with the gifts he gives us.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” (1 Corinthians 15:10)
God’s spiritual blessings and gifts are meant to be used in service to him. God’s material and earthly gifts are meant to be used in service to him. The grace of God is not simply a gift to be enjoyed but also a gift to be used as we seek to obey, honor, love, and glorify our God.