John MacArthur, in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ, tells a story from the life of Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The great preacher was riding home one evening after a heavy day’s work, feeling weary and depressed, when the verse came to mind, “My grace is sufficient for you” (II Corinthians 12:9). In his mind he immediately compared himself to a little fish in the Thames River, apprehensive lest drinking so many pints of water in the river each day he might drink the Thames dry. Then Father Thames says to him, “Drink away, little fish. My stream is sufficient for you.” Next he thought of a little mouse in the granaries of Egypt, afraid lest its daily nibbles exhaust the supplies and cause it to starve to death. Then Joseph comes along and says, “Cheer up, little mouse. My granaries are sufficient for you.” Then he thought of a man climbing some high mountain to reach its lofty summit and dreading lest his breathing there might exhaust all the oxygen in the atmosphere. The Creator booms His voice out of heaven, saying, “Breathe away, oh man, and fill your lungs. My atmosphere is sufficient for you!”
Grace is simply the powerful, undeserved, unlimited activity of God in our lives.
The life of a Christ-follower runs on grace, like a car runs on gasoline. Everything God calls upon us to be and do is the product of God’s grace at work in our lives. Thus as we live each day we ought to consume grace. Dallas Willard says, “The saints burn grace like a 747 burns fuel on takeoff, because everything we do is a manifestation of grace.”
This only works when we set aside our own sufficiency and dependence on our own strength. The Lord said to Paul in II Corinthians 12:9, “My power is made perfect in weakness.” So long as we are full of our confidence and resources there is no room for the grace of God. When we empty ourselves of that self-confidence we leave room for the powerful grace of God to take over.
This is true of our salvation. Ephesians 2:8 says, “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…” Salvation isn’t accomplished by our good works, but by the powerful, undeserved activity of God in our lives. We appropriate this grace by believing.
This is also true of our service. When our lives are sustained by the grace of God what flows from our lives is effective service for God and to others. The Apostle Paul saw his life and ministry in this light: “By the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10).
So grace doesn’t mean that I just sit back and do nothing. It means that I allow grace to produce in me all that God intends for it to produce. Even my work of service to God and others becomes the product of the grace of God at work.
Service to others done merely through an altruistic spirit may be helpful and commendable. The result is that good things are done and people may be helped by me. But when my service is fueled by God’s powerful, undeserved activity in my life, then the result is that great things are done and people are helped by God.
I challenge you this week to live lives sustained by the grace of God. Let His powerful, undeserved activity fuel all you do … and watch the supernatural unfold before your eyes.