Our son used to do repairs, yard work and other odd jobs for one of our neighbors. As I was standing on her porch talking one day, I noticed she was looking at me rather intently. When I stopped talking, she told me that my comment sounded just like something our son would say, and his mannerisms were so much like mine. She was right. It comes from spending time together and being part of the family.
Oh, how I hope others see my heavenly Father’s mannerisms in me, and hear me saying things that are exactly what He would say. That comes from spending time together and being part of the family. How can we be part of God’s family and live in such a way that people see Jesus in us? Only by His grace.
Psalm 84:11 says, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.”
“God is a sun” simply means He shines His brilliance on us as the rays of the sun. In the Hebrew, the word ‘sun’ means “in the presence of the sun, with the sun, as it were, looking on.” That brings up a mental picture of God standing close enough to us that the rays of His glory are illuminating us, just as the moon is illuminated by the sun. The closer the sun is to the moon, the brighter the moon shines. The closer we are to Jesus, the brighter we will shine. We can be constantly in His presence if we will draw near to Him. We can experience a life of grace and glory that far exceeds anything this world has to offer.
He gives us His grace and glory as He shines on us, in us and through us. The two go hand in hand, because without His marvelous grace, we do not have His light in our hearts. We may think of grace as being docile and passive, God’s favor on whatever we choose to do whether good or bad. But God’s grace is powerful and imparts that power to us enabling us to live a Christian life – a “Christ-like” life. We are saved by grace, changed by grace, kept by grace, empowered by grace. Not to continue to live in the same condition we were in before grace was extended to us. Jesus invites us to come to Him just as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay that way.
Grace goes beyond the forgiveness of our sins. Being born again is just the beginning of a life in the Spirit that leads us to greater depths into the love and power of God. My favorite definition of grace is found in Strong’s Concordance. And I have shared it often. Grace is “the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life.” Another source breaks it down to show us the distinctive components of His grace. It is His good will, loving-kindness and favor. But it also includes “the merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps, strengthens, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, affection, and kindles them to the exercise of the Christian virtues.” The grace of God is a powerful source that is deposited in us by God. Our lives are governed by the powerful influence of His grace in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. As we grow in grace, we grow in His glory. Without grace, there is no glory. The more we grow in grace, the more of Jesus’ glory will be seen through us. It doesn’t stop with us, but shines through us.
“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18) Growing in grace means the Spirit of God within us increases, and we decrease. Knowledge without the grace to work it out in our lives will keep His glory from being shown to others through us. By His grace, God places in us the influence of His Spirit and the power to change our lives and ultimately the lives of others. His glory is seen in us as we are consistently changed by this grace.
If we are not careful to submit to the influence of God in our hearts, we will be led away from what is right and holy. Studying the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to show us His truths enable us to incorporate them into our lives more and more every day.
Our union with Jesus by His Spirit will cause us to grow more into His image, in knowledge and in grace. Oswald Chambers said, “You always know when a man has been beholding the glory of the Lord, you feel in your inner spirit that he is the mirror of the Lord’s own character.” We will take on His character, and our own will fade away as we look into His glory. We will meld into one with Him, just as Jesus prayed we would. His glory is seen in His Word as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit. His glory in us increases when we enter into His presence.
When Moses went up on the mountain to meet with God for forty days, his face was still shining with God’s glory when he returned to the people. They asked him to put a veil over his face because they couldn’t bear the light. Stephen had the same shining glory on his face when he was stoned to death for his faith. As Stephen was dying, he saw the glory of God and said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” Yet the religious leaders were so angry with him for preaching the gospel that they went into a rage and killed him. There will be some who don’t want to see the glory of God. There are others who are hungry for it. Don’t let those who fight against God or reject Him keep you from showing them His glory. Whether we are rejected or accepted, we are called to shine the light of God’s glory. Just like Jesus. We are called to be made into the image of Christ.
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NKJV) There is no veil between us and God. We can see Him clearly in the Spirit and be formed into His image from one degree of glory to another degree of glory by His grace. In His presence we will experience His love, the understanding of His Word, the correction we need to adjust our lives into His likeness, and a joy that never ends.
The influence of God’s grace will lead us step by step closer to Jesus. One degree of glory is only one step. There is another ahead if we will keep our focus on Him and follow even when we don’t understand. Every time His Word speaks to our hearts and every time we come into His presence, we step into another degree of His glory.
Why have we been given this grace and glory? To reveal the glory of God to others. Jesus said, “Ye are the light of the world…Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14, 16) We have been given His influence in our hearts so we can show His light and glory through our works and our character…the works and character of Jesus.
So, we continue to grow “in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” We can be constantly stepping from glory to glory as we follow the example of Jesus. He was constantly praying to the Father and keeping in communion with Him. Molding into His image is not a one-time experience that transfers this glory to us. It is a lifetime of being connected to Jesus by His grace, of continually looking into His face. Sincere prayer and opening our lives up for God to examine us will keep our hearts pure and renewed in His Spirit. We need to surrender to Him daily and allow Him to use us for His glory. Don’t let anything get in the way of that oneness with Christ.
“The rush of other things always tends to obscure this concentration on God. We have to maintain ourselves in the place of beholding, keeping the life spiritual all through. Let other things come and go as they may, let other people criticize as they will, but never let anything obscure the life that is hid with Christ in God.” (Oswald Chambers)
So many have never seen or experienced His glory. But it is up to those of us who have received His grace and are increasing from one degree of glory to another, to show them. That is our responsibility. Their responsibility is to make the choice whether to accept or reject the Son of God.
To grow in grace and glory, we need “an intense narrowing of all our interests on earth and an immense broadening of all our interests in God.” Oswald Chambers