“It is God Who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Psalm 18:32) Yes, it’s only by God’s grace, His unearned and unmerited favor, that we are able to make it through trials and suffering. For this verse shows that it is God, not us, that accomplishes this for Believers…to prepare, repair, and perfect us during and after troubling times for His glory.
Jesus Christ is the embodiment of God’s loving kindness towards us. For as sinners, we have no right to claim that any of our good works will get us any closer to heaven…for they won’t. It is only by putting our faith and trust in Jesus that we can be saved…and it is only by His unmerited grace and mercy towards us that it can happen.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
What does being a “good person” mean to you? Maybe your list contains all the things you do. You donate, you volunteer, you help your neighbor. Or maybe your “good person” list contains all the things you don’t do. You don’t smoke, drink, or do drugs. You don’t swear, or watch X rated movies. All of us have mental lists that make up what being a “good person” constitutes. But just being a “good person” will not get us to heaven…for our eternal life is not hinged on anything we will ever do or not do. That’s because it’s only by the blood of Jesus and His sacrifice for us that we can have the hope of eternity with Him. The very foundation of Christian faith is based on this one truth…Jesus Christ came to save the world from sin and He is the only way to God…for just being a “good person” will never rescue you from going to Hell.
Our Heavenly Father is both benevolent and altruistic when it comes to blessing us. But we usually take that graciousness and turn it into prideful thinking. “Look what gifts the Lord has given me!” I Peter 4: 10-11 reminds us that we are to use those gifts to serve others, not flaunt them in front of people as trophies. The Apostle Paul warns us here that’s it’s all about our state of mind when regarding our giftings… it’s all about gratitude, not attitude and humility, not vanity.
Here, Paul is quoting Joel 2:32… showing the readers that there is no difference between Jew or Gentile…God is the same to all people groups. In Acts 2:21, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter also quoted Joel 2:32 to the bewildered crowd that had gathered after hearing their native languages coming from the apostles . Both Paul and Peter stressed that anyone could summons God’s help…any race, any gender, any person. And when that person called on the name of the Lord…they would be heard by God and delivered. For there is no one that is beyond God’s reach…no one that can’t say, “I need Your help God!” and God won’t rescue.
This verse starts out with the words, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord”. The Hebrew word for “tell” here has two definitions – the first being to remember or reflect upon, the second being to declare or proclaim. When we stop and reflect upon just how much the Lord has done for us…how many good things He has provided…how merciful and kind He has been towards us – how can we not want to share with others this love? Ephesians 2:4 tells us, “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” It is only by that unwarranted, unmerited love of God you are the person you are today through Him.