2 Cor 6:1-2 (NIV) As God's fellow-workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favour I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favour, now is the day of salvation.
Grace, Merely A Concept?
Imagine you (Mr. Faith is your name...) are the manager of the finances of a very rich philanthropist who has granted some of his vast fortune to a very poor son. When you call the son to inform him of his advance-inheritance and tell him what his father expects him to do with the money, he is elated. "I am just captivated by the whole idea of this transaction. What a great concept." You give him a bank account from which to draw his new resources and specific instructions on how to proceed, and he seems even more thrilled. The son replies, "The position this puts me in is worthy of deep consideration. The psychological aspects of this are so vast. The meditation of this will last a lifetime."
This transcendental response makes you wonder. The inheritor seems really excited about this gift theoretically--so much so that it seems as if he is rather missing the practical point of it. But just as you begin to think he is lost in mental revelries, he blurts out: "I will never have to work again. I am RICH!" At least he has got that right, and you figure that all the mental machinations and lofty thoughts will not hurt much. Perhaps he will make the transition from theory to reality and actually become a fruitful philanthropist like his father--the very reason the gift was given.
But, suspicious that you might be dealing with a loon, you check in a few months and find that this son has drawn nothing from the inheritance. You look into his life, and he is still going to his poor job everyday, not behaving like or becoming like his father in any noticeable way. As you investigate further, you see that he is boasting all the time of his great riches, and certainly has a happier attitude, but he is still living as poor as can be and in his own resources.
You call him to confront him on why he is not appropriating the gift that was given to him and he says "It is enough to meditate on the wondrous concept of this. Grace so lofty, grace so complete, grace so overwhelming..." and he gets teary-eyed as he speaks thus. You retort: "But you're not taking advantage of the very thing you are so captured with the thought of." "Well," replies the son, "My father is a great philanthropist, and I could never be like that." "Yes you could, and this is exactly what your father had in mind," you reply. "He expected this gift to change your life, even ordered you to live differently. Draw on the resources he has given you. Now then, stop being your old self and start doing the business you have received from your father in the power of his resources."
For all your encouragement, this lofty person seems so caught up in theoretical meditations of the fact that he has "received" and "accepted" such wealth, that he seems somehow to miss what it was given for.
After a year, an unexpected letter is received from the father which says: "If you are having a problem with a particular son who has a proclivity to get caught up in the form of things here is my instruction. If he receives my great inheritance in vain, if he continues to fall from the grace I have made available to him by not actualizing it--but only basking in the thought of it while remaining in his own resources and way of life--then take away his inheritance. Give it to someone whom it will really transform, who will use it to do what I want done, who will truly be my son."
2 Pet 1:2-12 (NKJ) Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins. Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know and are established in the present truth.
Heb 6:12 (NIV) ...imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Acts 20:32,35 (NIV) Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified... In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak...