“Let us, therefore, approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
(Hebrews 4:16, NRSV)
There is only one thing that limits God’s grace—us! The degree to which we receive God’s grace is directly proportional to our desire to receive God’s grace. There is nothing we have ever done or anything we have yet to do that is beyond the scope of God’s grace to forgive. The only limiting factor is whether or not we want to receive it.
Why is it so hard for us to accept a gift so freely given? It’s because most of us operate in the economy of transactions. If we want something, we must give something to receive it. Every interaction is a transaction based on quid pro quo. In the economy of God, things operate differently. God created us so that he could give to us. God loves us unconditionally and extends his grace to us whenever we are willing to receive it. We may argue, “God’s grace is too good to be true.” On the surface, that makes sense. On the other hand, we could argue, “God is too good for his unconditional grace NOT to be true!”
The reason God chose to order creation around unconditional grace is that God understands the power of love to transform. Rather than relying solely on a list of rules to frame the boundaries of our relationships, God knew love could create a desire to do what pleases the other as the means of shaping those boundaries. The rules give us an idea or a picture of the nature of healthy relationships. But the actual living out of those rules is best achieved through the naturally resulting behaviors inherent in a healthy loving relationship.
There is nothing we can do that will make God love us any more than God already loves us. At the same time, there is nothing we can do that will make God love us any less than God already loves us. To assume God cannot forgive us is to limit God in the only way God can be limited. The all-powerful God chooses to be able to be constrained by those of us who refuse his grace—even though it is his ultimate desire that we all freely accept it for ourselves.
The writer of Hebrews encourages us to approach the throne of God’s grace with boldness so that we might receive the only gift we need—the grace of God. May each of us receive this incredible gift with both the assurance of God’s love and the joy of being forgiven. Amen.
Rev. Dale Cohen
Senior Pastor of Canterbury United Methodist Church