“Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” – Philemon 3
So often, we consider grace something to be received: unmerited, undeserved favor.
It is a gift we gladly receive from God – and it is a beautiful thing to receive.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with considering grace in the receptive quality. It is what God has given us – we should receive it.
I heard it said recently that this was Paul the apostle’s customary greeting in all of his epistles, because it was the very best he could desire for those he loved.
Truly, it’s the best anyone can desire for anyone else – that they would receive God’s grace.
And we see this repeatedly in the epistles: Grace, and then peace.
They are conjoined terms in the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Simply, you can never have God’s peace without first knowing God’s grace.
Any other peace is dependent on your current circumstances. Which means that such peace is subject to rapid change and upheaval.
Whereas a peace based in God’s grace will be steadfast, and unshakable.
If ever you should find yourself without peace, return first to God’s grace. His peace will follow.
But there is another side to grace – and it is in the giving.
The verse quoted above comes at the opening of an incredible plea from Paul on behalf of one very much in need of grace from another.
What’s true is that In order to give someone something entirely unmerited – entirely undeserved – it will cost you something.
It’s been rightly said that grace is love that pays a price. Freely received, absolutely, but given at a cost.
We are so conditioned into that free reception of grace – and it is a beautiful thing – but the context of Paul’s letter to Philemon falls much more on the giving at a cost to yourself.
It falls under the mold that God first exhibited toward us: Love that pays a price.
When we talk about the cost of grace, it comes down to the unseen things that we tend to hold so dearly:
Grace will cost us our pride.
It’ll cost us the things we tend to hold onto so tightly: bitterness and anger and indignation.
And there’s not one of us who would be worse for the wear in losing any of those things – pride, bitterness, anger, indignation – from our lives.
Extending grace, it will cost our convenience. And our time. Very often our comfort as well.
At times, grace will cost us our rights. The things that we have a right to – legally or morally – as presented in the text of Philemon.
Real grace often comes at the cost of laying those rights down, in the interest of the restoration of another.
And all of that follows in the pattern of our Lord: having left His glorious throne in heaven, to live a humble life here. To be conspired against and betrayed. Unjustly tried, and unjustly sentenced to death. Brutalized, and mocked and scorned and killed.
All so that He might rise again, in victory over death – in order to forgive us our sins.
God demonstrates HIs own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Extending true grace to anyone else follows that same basic progression: cost to self, surrender of self, death to self, specifically that someone else might find life.
Joey Crandall is the pastor at Calvary Chapel Carson Valley.