AT THE END of one Good Friday service, a woman approached me. She was polite but I sensed that she was unhappy as she thanked me for the sermon and then said, “I wish that you had also touched on the grace to carry the cross.”
During that sermon on Luke 9:23, I had mentioned that Jesus calls us to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. That means giving up something we like so that another person is blessed. Earlier I had also said that in some Christian circles the words “disciple” and “cross” are not in their vocabulary. Theirs is an easy form of Christianity.
Grace is all God’s work. Once we inject an element where we can earn it, then grace ceases. However, the Christian life is not all about God’s work. When God acts, He expects a response. In other words, God’s grace and our works go together. The old-fashioned words here are surrender and obedience.
Our response to God is similar to His grace towards us – we give (to Him, and to others) in the same way He has given to us. Grace is not all about receiving from God, a notion that prevails nowadays. From God’s perspective, grace is what He gives. We are in Christ, so we exercise grace by giving.
The most difficult part about giving is the “up” part. Money is the easier part of giving. We do not like to give up what is closest, most comfortable, and pleasurable in our lives, including the giving up of ourselves. But when we do, that is grace at work.
When we give up something in carrying our cross, we may think we have suffered a loss. Nothing can be further from the truth. Paul says, “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up us for us all – how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32 NIV).
Whatever grace we release, there is more available from the God of Grace Himself. But until we actually surrender and in obedience carry our cross, we will never know the grace to carry the cross. Grace is not just what we receive before we carry our cross; grace is also the act of giving up of ourselves in carrying our cross. When we do, the power of grace is supplied to us.
The Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup is the President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC).
SURRENDER & OBEDIENCE
‘Grace is all God’s work … However, the Christian life is not all about God’s work. When God acts, He expects a response. God’s grace and our works go together. The old-fashioned words here are surrender and obedience.’