And Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote a book “The Cost of Discipleship” where he coined the phrase “Cheap Grace”. His intention was to emphasize discipleship which he felt was being neglected. Like we all do at one time or another, we emphasize one point while distancing others. He did the same.
Grace is priceless. All the money in the world cannot purchase it. Grace is the outer expression of God’s inner character. There is nothing cheap about God. His grace has been around as long as HE has.
When most of us write or speak about cheap grace, aren’t we speaking from our humanistic perspective? As mortals normally do, we place a value on everything from our view. Therefore, my purpose today is not to critique his book and concepts but simply borrow his phrase – cheap grace.
My definition: cheap grace is our lackadaisical attitude toward God when we intentionally, deliberately and repeatedly abuse HIS goodness in our life.
God is always good. His mercy and compassion are always overflowing. He wants what is best for us. Sometimes though, we take advantage of HIS kindness and love by placing ourselves in planned difficult situations which deliberately requires HIS intervention on our behalf.
Like the little child desiring one of mom’s freshly baked cookies hidden in the upper cabinet of the kitchen, I am no different. As a child in great need to satisfy my sweet tooth, I would drag the chair over to the other side of the kitchen, place a box on top of the chair and then climb on top so I could reach the upper shelf where the cookies were hidden. I don’t recall how many times I fell or how many times I succeeded to obtain a cookie before dinner, but I do recall once falling and being caught by my mother before hitting the floor. I think the act of being caught hurt more than the spanking I received.
I’m not sure how long I continued to seek those cookies, but this I knew through it all. Mom still loved me even after my disobedience. And the price of hurting oneself for one of her treats was worth the risk.
I still catch myself at times behaving the same way with God. I abuse his love more times then I can count. Jesus himself faced such a temptation from Satan at the beginning of his public ministry but never gave in. He was tempted by Satan to leap off from the top of the temple (commit suicide) stating that because He was God’s Son, God will catch him. But Jesus didn’t succumb to the liar’s temptation. Instead Jesus quoted Scripture reminded everyone that we are not to put God to the test.
God is always good. And knowing HE is always good allows the carnal heart to sometimes take advantage of HIS goodness. This attitude though runs the risk of slowly destroying one’s consciousness. The more times we give in to the temptation, the easier it becomes to fail the next time. And the more we become like that child thinking we are getting away with something in the short term but not realizing the next one may be life threatening.
Cheap grace is taking advantage of God’s love. The action is not from love, but of self-indulgence.
Thankfully though, Jesus Christ knows our human condition and heart. He has already forgiven us for our ignorant stupidity. And more importantly, loves us so much that he will continually discipline us until we change. So, the quicker we stop abusing HIS love and allow HIM to live out HIS life in us and through us, the richer life becomes and the deeper the relationship grows where our desire is to truly respect and honor HIM in every way.
Every test is an opportunity to grow stronger in HIM. The outcome is victory. The reward is a greater faith in HIM. The prize is to experience life more abundantly. The result is a deeper, more meaningful relationship with our King.
Yes, we are more than grateful for the priceless grace of God.
Rooting For You in Christ!
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