The Panorama of God’s Grace
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights. James 1:17a
I’ve been talking mostly about saving grace and sanctifying grace, but as David Seamands says, that’s like going to the Alps and only seeing the Matterhorn. There’s so much more to inspire awe. I love his phrase “the panorama of God’s grace.” Let’s look at some of the other wonders of grace.
General GraceJames says in today’s verse, “every good and perfect gift is from above….” Everything true and beautiful and good in the world is a gift of God — it doesn’t have to be explicitly religious or biblical for you to enjoy it.
The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, said to enjoy your food and drink and family (Ecclesiastes 9:7) because they are part of God’s favor.
The Bible says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)
It doesn’t say religious things that are lovely and admirable, etc. It says whatever. This means that there are landscapes, stories, music, knowledge, sports, and many other excellent and praiseworthy things you can experience with a joyful heart. Some examples for me: Reading The Lord of the Rings. Running on cliffs overlooking the ocean. Hiking in a redwood forest. Use wisdom and discernment and learn to enjoy God’s general grace all around you all the time.
Christian musician Todd Agnew writes:
The goodness of God is found in a ray of sunshine in the middle of a day of rain. His gift of joy even reaches through our darkest pain. In short, every little bit of goodness in my life originated in the heart of my God. Every thing that made me smile. Every ounce of beauty that caught my eye. Every color, every giggle, every cloud, every shower, every touch, every taste came from Him. He is the source of all good things, the fount of every blessing, the giver of ten thousand charms.
Like John says, “from the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.” (John 1:16)
This is an idea taught by respected Christians throughout history. Even the very strict theologian John Calvin taught that God’s general grace can be perceived through nature, as well as in “mechanical arts… liberal sciences… and even heathen philosophers and poets… all truth is from God, and if wicked men have said something true and just, we ought not to reject it, for it has come from God.”
Let’s look at some more peaks in the panorama:
If God allowed the consequences of human sin to run unchecked, we would probably have destroyed ourselves by now. Instead, because of His love and grace, He restrains some of the practice of sin (2 Thessalonians 2:7), withholds some of the consequences of sin (Psalm 103:10, Acts 17:30), and gives us the idea of government and law enforcement to suppress the human tendency to self-destruction (Romans 13:1–7).
As I write this, our city is still cleaning up its downtown area after a Saturday night riot left scores of businesses vandalized. Ever wonder why this doesn’t happen more often? I believe it’s due to restraining grace.
The parables Jesus told in Luke 15 show God as a seeker of the lost. Not only do we love Him because He first loved us; we seek Him because He first sought us. My friend Rigo Dicochea shared his journey to faith one day in church and said, “I remember researching information about other religions and finding that Christ found me rather than me finding Him. I don’t know if that makes sense, but… it just happened. He became my hope… my King.”
When you decide to turn to Him, you find that what you thought would be a long trek back is really just one step — because He’s been following you the whole time and is right there next to you! You turn around, and, whoa! there He is. As Paul tells the Athenians, “He is not far from each one of us.” (Acts 17:27)
The amazing thing to me about heaven is that even there, God’s grace continues. I mean, really, you’re already in heaven; how much better can it get?! As I mentioned earlier, because grace is an essential part of God’s character, even there, in the new heaven and new earth, in a perfect environment where we will want for nothing, He continues to give.
What “admirable, noble, excellent, praiseworthy” examples of God’s general grace do you love to enjoy?
Why is it important to remind yourself that God gives you good gifts to enjoy?
Today, spend some time drinking in the grace of God through His general gifts of beauty and truth. While you do, praise Him for His grace through this!