By Pastor Victor Koop
Have you ever thought about when you learned to say grace? Was it in church or at school or at camp? For some of you, maybe the first time you learned to say grace was at meal time.
As a child, I grew up always praying before we ate, and my dad was the one who usually said grace. He not only thanked God for the food but always gave thanks for the gift of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ.
In this article, I want to mention four different types of grace. Some of them you may receive early in life while others may come to you when you are older.
1. Saying Grace This is where you first hear the word grace when you sit down to eat. We have been conditioned to say grace before we eat. But we don’t always say grace before the meal. Here is a story I heard once. A Christian man didn’t want to preach to his friends but wanted to show by his life. When he went out to eat with his friends, they all started eating right away. So he waited until after the meal and then said, “Why don’t we stop now and give God thanks for our food?”
Chuck Colson shares this story… A friend and I went out for breakfast and we each ordered omelettes. We started talking and then decided to pray for our food. When we finished, the waitress was standing there holding our omelettes. She said, “Were you guys praying? Hey! That’s neat; I have not seen anyone pray in here before. Are you guys preachers?” We said no. Then she said, “I’m a Christian – at least I once was. I accepted Jesus as my Saviour when I was a teenager but then I moved to another state and lost interest.” Colson said, “I don’t think you lost it – you just put it aside for a while.” “It’s funny,” she said, “when you were praying I got excited again.” We encouraged her to return to the Lord. Later on they met her again, and she said, “I made contact with another Christian and am planning to go to a Bible Study tomorrow, and I’m going to find a church. I’ve come back.” Colson said, “Until that night, I felt awkward at times praying over meals in restaurants… never again.”
2. Saving Grace Ephesians 2:8, 9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so no one should boast.”
It reminds us that we cannot save ourselves. You can’t save your children, but you can pray for them. It is an individual choice.
3. Living Grace Let’s think about how we respond to others – how we talk to our friends and neighbors. Are you gracious when dealing or talking with others? Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
4. Dying Grace When we come to that point in our life when we have to die, we all hope that we will handle it well. What is your attitude toward death? Are you holding on to the fact that you can say grace? Will that get you into heaven? Once you have experienced saving grace, then I believe God will give you grace to die – which I call dying grace. Psalm 23:4 says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me. Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.”
Here is a story – A couple had lost a child and they were grieving. One day, walking through the fields, the two noticed a shepherd leading his flock of sheep. The sheep seemed frightened to jump across a brook, so the shepherd took a lamb in his arms, and he crossed it, placing the lamb about 50 yards on the other side. At once the lamb began bleating for its mother. She heard the call and bolted toward the stream and leaped over it. The other sheep followed and soon the entire flock was on the other side. “Now I understand,” said the wife, watching from a distance. “The Lord has taken my lamb that I myself may meet her on the other side.”
Remember, saying grace will not get you into heaven. But if you trust Jesus as your Saviour than you will experience saving grace and you will have dying grace when it is your turn to leave this world.