It’s a quiet Thanksgiving morning in my apartment. I don’t have family running around, and I’m not trying to get out the door to head to a relative’s house. I’m just sitting on my couch, drinking coffee.
I only get Thanksgiving Day off from work. I didn’t have time to drive to my family to spend this holiday with them. I don’t think I have ever spent Thanksgiving away from my family, actually. But I am so thankful, especially that I have dear friends here that will open up their home to me so that I don’t have to spend the day alone. I’m not going to create a massive list of all the material things I am thankful for (which I am, don’t get me wrong), but I do have one specific thought that made my heart nearly explode with thankfulness this morning.
I am so thankful for grace. I know that anyone and everyone would say that, how can we not be? But I am studying through Philippians right now and I just got this overwhelming sense of grace. I have been feeling guilty about my life lately. My life choices, avoiding the Word, avoiding community, and just feeling sorry for myself. So the guilt has been building up, which I’m sure others have experienced in their lives.
In Philippians, Paul is writing to the…Philippians. I think that verse six is pretty recognizable, but I had never really read past that.
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace. [1:6-7]
Wait, what? These random people in this random town get the same grace as PAUL?! This is probably the most obvious thing in the Christian world, that we all receive the same grace, but it still blew my mind. I understand that I receive grace, and I understand that I receive it endlessly. In the words of Cady Heron, “The limit does not exist.” But the thought that it could be the same grace that Paul received? What? No freaking way. The greatest evangelist to ever walk the earth? I am connected to this dude? That’s insane.
Paul was completely redeemed from his “pre-Christ” life. He was a murderer. Of Christians. He killed Christians…because they were Christians. And God still wanted him. God changed Paul’s life. He turned Paul from one of the most ruthless persecutors of Christianity to one of the most profound evangelicals of Christianity. That is grace.
That ancient grace is the same for me. How amazing is that grace. A grace that can remove the stain of blood from a man’s hands can remove the stain of sin from mine. That part of Paul is gone, so far gone. So far removed from him.
As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. [Psalm 103:12]
I struggle to see the reality of such grace. My sin is literally removed from my past. Jesus Christ died for people like Paul. He died for people like me. I mean, if Paul can be changed, anyone can. Every day is a new day full of new grace and new mercy. And that is all because Jesus Christ saw my life just as worthy of His death as Paul. That spotless, perfect, KING became a human and died a horrible, disgusting death so that nasty sinners like me could have eternal life. Paul and I are on the same level. That’s such a cool thought. I am a partaker of grace. And for that, I am thankful.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. [Lamentations 3:22-23]