A while back, our washing machine broke. I walked out to the garage to find water and soap suds spilling over the edge of the wash tub and onto the floor, and like any wise husband would do, I tried to get it fixed before my wife saw. Sadly, the damage was done, and when she walked into the garage and saw the state of that load of laundry, I realized it wasn’t only the machine that would be having a meltdown. We’ve since replaced the washing machine and my wife is happily doing laundry without the drama of an overflowing wash tub, but the whole affair had me thinking of God’s grace and how it overflows in our lives.
Like the glass in the picture above, God’s grace overflows and exceeds all that we can imagine. It never runs out. We all have that point where we believe grace should end, where there’s no more room for forgiveness, but God sees otherwise. He keeps pouring out his grace into our lives well before we do anything to deserve it and long after it has met our needs. The only thing that could possibly keep God’s grace away from us is if we pull away the cup. He can only fill us to overflowing if we’re willing to stand there and receive it. Otherwise, we’ll miss out on all that God has to offer.
In Matthew, chapter 18, we see that Peter asks Jesus how many times it is necessary to forgive (Matthew 18:21). Jesus basically says that we should never stop forgiving and then he goes on to tell a parable about an unmerciful servant (Matthew 18:22-35). In this story, we see a man who was forgiven an immeasurable debt, turn around and be unwilling to forgive someone who was indebted to him. It’s a classic case of hypocrisy, and it’s one of the ways we show God that we really don’t appreciate his grace for what it’s worth. We think grace should have a limit, that someone should deserve our mercy before we offer it. But God teaches that we should continue to offer grace beyond what we think is appropriate. It’s the least we can do in response to what’s been done for us.
The reality is, we are all like the servant in the parable who was forgiven of the immeasurable debt. We can work hard, but we’ll never be able to pay it off. God knows the tally of our debt no matter if we try to hide it or not (Hebrews 4:13). He knows the score is not in our favor and he chooses to forget it. His grace is greater than your debt. But God also gives a warning. His grace and forgiveness are contingent on how we forgive. If we respond to grace like the servant in the parable and refuse to forgive others, we can still expect to pay for our debt of sin. If we take lightly the grace of God, we have no expectation or right to the rewards that he so freely offers.
We will spend a lifetime trying to learn of God’s grace and what it means and still not come close to understanding it. It’s a love that is beyond the ability of humans to fathom. And yet, he shares it with us and asks us to do the same with each other. It’s the way we show the light of Chris to the world and the way God helps us to know just how important to Him we really are.