Yours is the kingdom and also the power,
From You flows forth the essence of grace,
This let us, Lord, receive,
That we give You praise and glory,
Drawing our hearts to You.
Ausbund Song 105 verse 8
Grace. It’s an amazing thing. And while we all strive to have it, do we know what it truly is?
If you Google the word grace, the following definition is first on the list: Simple elegance or refinement of movement. I like those words. Simple. Elegance. Refinement. Movement. There’s action in there. Grace isn’t something we “get” or “have”…it’s something we do.
God is simple. He has very specific expectations of us. Do good. Be good. I remember hearing that saying on the John Adams series a few years back. John Adams always told his children to do good and be good. At the time, I thought that was the best parental advice I had ever heard. To this day, whenever I drop my children off at school, that’s our parting words before “I love you.” Do good. Be good.
When we do good things, we honor God. When we are good people, we honor God. It’s basically that simple. Do good. Be good. At night, when I pray before sleep, I spend a few minutes reflecting on what I have done good each day and make goals on how to improve the next. Reflection is key to grace, I think. We need to reflect on the words we have spoken, things we have written, and actions we have taken. Would God be proud of us? Would He consider what we said, wrote, and did as “doing or being good?” That should be our barometer of grace. It’s that simple.
God is elegant. I returned to my friend, Google, and looked up the definition of the word elegance: a refined quality of gracefulness and good taste. That was a little harder to dissect. But the words “refined quality” struck me. Quality means that it’s the best of the best. Add refined to it and the meaning changes. To be refined, you have to work at it. It’s not easy to have grace. It’s not easy to have quality. We have to work at it. When we fail, we have to keep trying. Yes, you have to work at having elegance, a refined quality of simpleness that helps us achieve grace. And, as we all know, work is not easy nor is it always pleasant.
Understanding those two words truly helps to put it into perspective to me. I think back to the persecution of the Mennonites and Amish people in the 1600s and 1700s. As many of you know, my ancestors, the Preiss family, emigrated from Europe to escape persecution in the very early 1700s. Once in America, their name was changed to Price (yes, they, too, had to switch their name–I honor my ancestors by using this name). Giving up their name and their homeland must not have been easy.
For over 300 years, these people lived their lives striving to find God’s grace in their daily routines. Besides being Mennonite ministers, they were also generational farmers, working the land to feed themselves as well as their community. My own father was raised to be a poultry farmer and vegetable salesman. We tease him now about how far he has come from his Mennonite upbringing.
So how do we find God’s grace? By doing good and being good as we honor God and Jesus Christ. We forgive those who do harm to us and pray for peace in their unstable or unhappy lives. We do what we can to help others, those in need or who are so good that they deserve our special love. God is full of grace. In order for us to have it, we need to recognize that the goodness that we wish from Him is the goodness we should be spreading to others.