Serving God Acceptably, 1

Simply stated, grace means “unmerited favor.” We are saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8)—that is, apart from all human effort or merit—because of divine favor freely bestowed through faith upon all who believe.  This is the essence of saving grace.

But, when we speak or think of grace, there is much more to consider than just the grace that saves. W.H. Thomas, in a little book that bears his name, titled Grace and Power, said well that “grace means not merely favor, but help; not only benevolence, but benefaction; not simply feeling, but force; not solely good will, but good work. It is the divine favor expressed in and proved by His gift: attitude shown by action.”

The focus of this and some ensuing posts on grace will be “serving” grace. First, a couple of preliminary considerations: (1) Every saved person has received a portion or measure of grace with which to serve our God: “Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” (Heb. 12:28) And, “But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.” (Eph. 2:7) (2) Our service to and for God following salvation is determined by two things: the measure of faith, Romans 12:3; and the measure of grace, Romans 12:6.

Are we therefore locked in by a measure that is not as great as another? Paul says in
Romans 15:17 that we all have received “abundance of grace,” and Peter exhorts us to “grow in grace.” (2 Peter 3:18) Furthermore, we learn in Hebrews 4:16 that we can ask for grace, and in James 4:6 that grace is given when we humble ourselves before God.

Having noted these preliminary truths about serving grace, the remainder of this post will focus on the serving grace of speech. Col. 4:6 says: “Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

  •  Our speech should be always with grace! Derivatives of grace—like “gift, give freely, forgive, bestow graciously, joy, rejoice, thanksgiving, thankful, gratis, gratitude, grateful, gracious”—ought to characterize our speech, as opposed to “ungrateful, ungracious, unthankful, disgraceful, unforgiving, vindictive, bitter, malicious.” Certain phrases will find their way into our everyday speech when it is marked by grace: “Thank you,” “Please,” “That’s all right,” “You go first,” “I’m sorry,” “I know how you feel,” “Please forgive me.”
  • Our speech ought to be “seasoned with salt.” Salt is a spoilage retardant, and so ought our words be free of that which is corrupt (Mark 9:50—“Have salt among yourselves”). Salt is for seasoning, and the presence of it makes food palatable; so ought our speech be tasteful, desirable and delightful, free of that which is rude or crude.
  • Our speech with grace, seasoned with salt, is for the purpose of answering every man: honest enquirers, hateful critics, and fellow-saints. Our answers should come from God (Provs. 14:1—“the preparations of the heart and the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.”). Our answers should be the source of joy (Provs. 15:23—“A man hath joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is”). Our answers should not be given in haste (Provs. 29:20—“Seeth thou a man hasty with his words…there is more hope of a fool than of him”). Our answers should be given with forethought (Provs. 15:28—“The heart of the righteous studieth to answer, but the heart of the wicked poureth out evil things”). Our answers should be in a soft tone when responding to anger (Provs. 15:1— “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger”).

A Korean Christian who had a problem with his temper heard a missionary say that every burst of anger pierced the heart of Jesus; so, he hung a picture of Jesus on a wall, and every time he had an outburst of anger, he stuck a thorn into the picture. Soon it was covered with thorns.

God’s grace is the sine qua non of salvation, but also of Christian service. And there is no area in which His grace is more crucial than in serving Him through godly speech. May our “speech be always with grace.”

Theologian John W. Stott wrote: “Grace is love that cares, and stoops, and rescues.” We might well say, too, that it causes us to guard our tongue and speak with wisdom, love, and caring forethought.

“Only a word of anger, but it wounded a sensitive heart. Only a word of sharp reproach, but it made the teardrops start. Only a hasty, thoughtless word, sarcastic and unkind. But it darkened the day before so bright, and left a sting behind.” (anon.)

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” (Provs. 25:11)

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