The Divine Gratuity (Ephesians 3.20–21)


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SCRIPTURE READING

Ephesians 3.20–21:

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT

Are you a generous tipper?

When I was growing up, my family ate out at restaurants a lot. Usually, the service was adequate. Sometimes it was excellent. On a few memorable occasions it was downright awful. Regardless, we made a practice of tipping the wait staff well. Generosity in such cases reflects who the tipper is, rather than what the tippee deserves.

Tipping, in other words, is a lot like grace. When you eat out, you don’t have to tip your server. You have satisfied the demands of the law simply by paying your bill. But tipping goes above and beyond what you are required to do. In fact, gratuity (the fancy word for tip) derives from gratia (the Latin word for “grace”).

Is God a good tipper?

Obviously, we’re not very good servants to him. Spiritually speaking, we serve up his food late, cold, and with attitude, if we serve it at all. God could satisfy the demands of the law by giving us merely what we deserve. But does he give us anything more? And if so, how much more? Does he nickel and dime us with grace, or does he “tip the check”? (Tipping the check means leaving a tip at least as large as your bill.)

In Ephesians 3.20–21, Paul writes: “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” There are three important phrases here:

To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. I am fascinated by the superlatives both in verse 21 and throughout Ephesians. We have been blessed with “every spiritual blessing” (1.3). God “lavished upon us” “the riches of his grace” (1.7, 8). Paul writes of “the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” and “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us” (1.18, 19). He describes God as being “rich in mercy” and having “great love” for us (2.4). He promises that in eternity, God will show us “the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (2.7). He writes about “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (3.8). The words rich and riches show up a lot in Paul’s vocabulary of grace. If you were a server, and billionaire Bill Gates were you customer, I’m sure you could imagine a pretty sizable tip. Compared to God, however, Bill Gates is a cheapskate. You can’t even imagine how gratuitous God is!

The power at work within us. God does not merely give us grace and walk away. He gives us the power to change. The grace of forgiveness becomes the grace of transformation.

To him be glory in the church. A good tip always makes a server smile. Grace does the same for sinners, but grace is “forever and ever.”

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One thought on “The Divine Gratuity (Ephesians 3.20–21)

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  1. “To him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. I am fascinated by the superlatives both in verse 21 and throughout Ephesians.”

    George: Your treatment of Ephesians just gets better and better. You’ll have a hard time topping this one. I have an observation on the above verse. When it comes to grace, i.e., “unmerited favor,” is it really true that God does for ALL HUMANITY (deserving and undeserving) “far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”? For example, does he give the gift of salvation to those who have lived and died never having been ‘tipped’ off (pun intended) about the gospel of Jesus Christ? Will he grant his grace of salvation to those sinners who fail to ‘ask’ him to forgive their sins? Or does he “tip the check”?

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