“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight.” Ephesians 1:7-8
Lavish – an adjective that means sumptuously rich, extravagant, or luxurious. When used as a verb, the word lavish means to bestow something in extravagant quantities. The apostle Paul says that through the blood of Christ, we are recipients of lavish grace. Not a little grace, or some grace; not even just enough grace, but over-the-top abundant grace. (Insert a round of applause and a loud hallelujah here).
But how well do we understand this lavish grace that we have received? A year ago, I switched to a full time employment with an institution I used to work part time for and I received a new benefits package from the Human Resources office. I’m glad my husband went over the details before I scheduled my next dental visit because it would have been a pain to sort things out retroactively had I gone ahead to see a dentist who was outside of our insurance network. As an employee, I should have a better knowledge of the benefits my employer provides. As believers we could also lack knowledge or have the wrong knowledge about our God-given benefits package We sometimes think and behave as though our grace package promised no sickness, no job loss, no death in the family, no difficult relationship, no financial hardship, no church conflict, when in fact, God gives us lavish grace in sickness, sufficient grace in a job loss, unbelievable grace upon a death in the family, unexpected grace in a difficult relationship, enduring grace in financial hardship and miraculous grace in church conflicts.
In the gospel of John, we read “For from his fullness, we receive grace upon grace.” John 1:16. The apostle Peter also encouraged the believers that “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3 It is clear that God is the source and giver of grace, and there is no need to wonder whether grace will be sufficient for our daily life. Not only that. This grace that he pours into us does not remain stagnant within us but overflows to others. We are his vessels not only for storage but for distribution. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times you may abound in every good work.” 2 Cor 9:8
Recipients of lavish grace are conduits of lavish grace. How does this happen?
I came across this fountain in Dubrovnik on a summer trip. Thanks to Neapolitan architect Onofrio Giordano dela Cava, it is not only pretty to look at but is also a source of cool, clean, drinking water, and tourists are encouraged to fill their water bottles here for free. Indeed there are many places in Europe that benefited from aqueduct systems which facilitated the distribution of water from distant mountain springs, down to where people dwelt. As early as the 19th century BC, the Aqua Virgo Aqueduct was constructed in Rome to channel waters to Roman baths and fountains to serve its citizens. The endpoint of this ancient
aqueduct is the Fontaine de Trevi – definitely one of the grandest monuments in Europe and apparently one of the oldest water suppliers in Rome. (What an absolutely gorgeous water tank!)
What is worth noting about the blueprint of an aqueduct system and what makes it an effective channel is that the distribution point is always lower than the water source.
So should we be in relation to our God. Such is the position we need to root ourselves in at all times. Humility allows for the unimpeded flow of grace and to be effective conduits of his lavish grace, we need to be humble.
“Here is the path to the higher life: down, lower down! Just as water always seeks and fills the lowest place, so the moment God finds men abased and empty, His glory and power flow in to exalt and to bless.” Andrew Murray
All glory and power belong to God. He allows them to flow through us when we take the proper posture before him and before all men – down, lower down. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5 Whenever we find it hard to believe that there is much grace available to us, or when our circumstances overwhelm us and we think God, for some reason, is withholding the help that we need, could it be that God is in fact calling us to deeper humility? In his bitterness toward the lavish grace that his father bestowed upon his prodigal younger brother, the older brother showed how pride and self-righteousness blind us from seeing God’s grace, even when we’re surrounded by it. (Luke 15:28-30) Author Jen Wilkin teaches on this: “But the moment we begin to ask out of a sense of entitlement, we contaminate grace. To demand it is to defile it. In doing so, we take on the role of the prodigal’s older brother, grown so accustomed to abundance that he believes it is his by right rather than by gift.” (from In His Image)
If we are in Christ, we have been lavished with grace. It is not just a drop here and there but an unstoppable cascade that is meant to overflow and give life to others. Let us open our hearts wide and let us humble ourselves that God may be exalted.
“A cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water no matter how suddenly jarred.” Amy Carmichael