I hear a lot about “free grace.” I hear people say that grace is a gift freely given, we do nothing toearn or deserve it. It costs us nothing. But is grace really free? I do not mean “are there strings attached” but is it without cost? Even a gift given to us cost something to someone, and usually the better the quality the higher the cost. What is the cost of grace?
First let me say that the Bible clearly says that grace is a gift freely given that we could never earn or deserve.
Ephesians 2:8-9 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
So grace is free in the sense that we do not pay for it. But grace was not free to God. In order for God to extend grace to us, He had to pay a price to purchase it. And that price was the highest He could pay. In a sense, He bought our grace with the blood of His Son. It was Jesus’ death on the cross that paid the debt for our sin so that we could be made right with God. God the Father sacrificed His Son so that He could extend grace to us. Grace is the most expensive gift I have ever been given. Grace is still free for us, but it was costly to God.
So does grace cost us anything at all? Yes, it does. We do not pay to receive grace but we pay to have it. Of course we don’t have to pay to keep grace, if we did then it would not be grace. But grace does have a cost in our lifestyles.
Romans 6:15-16 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness?
Many people think that because something is free, that it is cheap and so not worth taking care of. Like the Dollar Store sunglasses that you buy because you left your good pair at home, if you lose or break them it’s no big deal because it cost you almost nothing. But grace is not like that. Many think that because grace is free they can use it however they want and do whatever they want because “you are saved by grace not works”, but it was not meant to be that way. If they truly understood the real value of grace they would treasure it above all else. They would realize what grace cost the Giver and live a life of gratitude not of selfishness.
A life that truly understands the worth of grace will see that we were not given grace, freed from sin, so that we could do what we want. We were freed so that we could have a relationship with God and live a life devoted to Him that is otherwise impossible. We could never truly live for God without grace because 1) without salvation we are enslaved to sin and have no capability of righteousness, and 2) we can never be good enough or do enough good works to earn that standing. It is only through the precious blood of Christ that we are capable of it. It’s not that there are strings attached because, again, we can’t earn or deserve anything by what we do. The point is that a true understanding of grace and Christian liberty reveals the purpose of that grace and liberty: living for God.
Galatians 2:20 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
Grace frees us from sin so that we are not bound to sin any longer. If we really understood the debt that was paid on our behalf we would spend every waking minute trying to think of ways to thank God for it. One of those ways is by living in obedience to His Word. Jesus said,
John 14:21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
By being obedient we are showing our reverent love for God. It is not supposed to be out of duty or a desire to earn something, but out of love. It is also through obedience that we become more like God. And we honor God by being like Him. That is how we show appreciation for the gift. It’s not that we have to, insincere thanks are bitter to the taste. But we should want to. We should be so filled with gratitude that we desire to give up our own plans in order to show that gratitude to God, and to others, to let the world know of the wonderful gift we have been given. We should pursue a true understanding of the Gospel so that we know what we have and what He gave.
So how much do you really understand the Gospel? What is grace worth to you?