Greater Grace

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

I was reminded recently of street people as I tended to my son’s smashed up toenail (fortunately his toe was not broken). He was playing and … well, you know, smashed up his toenail (boys do things like that). The reason I was reminded of street people was because I heard of a person who has a “foot clinic”. She is a nurse (I suppose), and offers her services for free from time to time, to help out street people. She “does the rounds” as it were. Now street people tend to have very dirty feet. And because they are street people, and hygiene tends to be a real issue with them, they also tend to have more than the usual problems with their feet. A nurse offering to care for feet can be a sight for sore eyes … err … sore feet!

But herein lies a great problem. And I speak from the experience of having met, and spoken with, and “dealt” with a number of street people myself, as I have both handed out tracts on the street, as well as picked up one or more street people who were hitchhiking (I don’t just pick up anybody, but if I feel a holy unction to do so — that is, I sense God is calling me to do it — I will certainly do so). Now the point I am trying to make I think is well reflected with the case of one man whom we picked up hitchhiking. Rather than just asking for money, he had a trade which he practiced which “earned” him some money. And that trade was music. He’d play his music, and … you know how it goes … he put out the hat, and people would put in money.

We asked this man about his “profession”. How was it that he became a street person, living like he was? Was he ever employed? What was his background like? Well, here’s the story. The man was a schoolteacher. But because he had an anger problem, he couldn’t keep a job. Consequently, the only thing he could “do” was earn a living on the street. Now think about that. He was qualified to teach. The problem was not with his qualifications! Indeed, he was able, and had the giftings, to be able to be a teacher. That’s no small task! And the man was endowed with these giftings! But his wrath got him into a pile of trouble! In Job we read, “For wrath killeth the foolish man, and envy slayeth the silly one.” (Job 5:2). Solomon writes, “Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools.” (Ecclesiastes 7:9). By contrast, we read “The LORD [is] gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Psalm 145:8). What a difference!

Now, back to the foot clinic. You see, the foot clinic for the street person is a form of grace. But is this as far as the Lord wants to take them? I hope that the answer is a qualified “no”. What do I mean by “qualified”? Well, I believe with good reason, we can expect that the Lord wants to take street people to a much “higher” level than simply providing them with foot clinics, or meals, or shelter. Ideally, where do you think God wants to take our friend the teacher who couldn’t hold down a job because of his anger and who ended up resorting to the street? If we’re thinking along the same lines, is the answer not back to the classroom, where he was once a teacher? For as it says in Romans 11:29, “For the gifts and calling of God [are] without repentance.”

What’s the answer for this man? It’s that very old, but still highly effective word, “repentance” … which means to make an “about face” (or to turn around and start walking in the other direction). What would happen if this man decided to do that? I think we can all agree that the grace that would be given to that man would begin to surpass foot clinics, and move into another realm altogether. What then limits this man from receiving this “greater grace”? Is it his circumstances? His skin color? His financial situation? His academic background? While these factors affect HOW and WHERE God may bless or use a person, I think it is clear from both biblical, as well as historical, testimony that they do not affect the EXTENT to which God may bless or use a person.

In closing, I’d like to leave us with this thought. How do we limit God? And to what extent is God being forced, as it were, to provide us with “foot clinics” instead of the “greater grace” that he wants to pour out in our lives? To what extent are we limiting God on account of our attitude, or our unwillingness to do that which he has commanded us to do? May God bless you as you consider these things today.

“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)