Rabbi’s Reflections – Friday, February 3, 2023
(Early) Shabbat Shalom,

Don’t Belittle the Gift of Grace – Romans, part 19

Romans 2:4 Or do you belittle the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience—not realizing that God’s kindness leads you to repentance?

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What are the “riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience?”  This is a very good description of grace.  God’s “grace” toward us is usually described as His “undeserved favor,” but here in the TLV it is described as His kindness and tolerance and patience.

This raises the question, “How do we belittle God’s grace?”  First, the TLV uses the word “belittle,” but other versions use the word “despise.”  The meaning of both belittle and despise is “contemptuous unconcern.”  So, how do we devalue God’s grace?  The end of our verse provides the answer for us.  By not realizing that God’s kindness (grace) leads us to repentance.

What, grace is more than undeserved favor?  Yes, the purpose of grace is God’s indwelling power to lead us to repentance.  By grace we are saved… not like the winner of a ticket to heaven, but to do the work of God.  The final words of our congregational declaration last year were taken from Hebrews 4:16 Therefore let us draw near to the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help in time of need.  

“Grace for help” to do what?  Here’s a clue, “in time of need.”  Grace has two parts.  First, grace is the God given desire to repent, and because He is a good and loving God, He also gives us the ability to repent along with that desire.  Grace provides the unction for righteous living.  There are no sinners in heaven, only righteously transformed ones.

We belittle grace by ignoring these truths.  If we use grace as an excuse to sin (saying, “there’s grace for that”) we make God a liar.  Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also get rid of every weight and entangling sin. Let us run with endurance the race set before us,…15 See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God; and see to it that no bitter root springs up and causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. 16 Also see to it that there is no immoral or godless person—like Esau 17b …he was rejected. He found no chance for repentance, though he begged for it with tears.

To make the most of God’s gift of grace we must use it to embrace God’s righteousness and walk in His ways.  We deserve a guilty verdict (after all, we are all guilty), but God, through His Son, has commuted our guilty verdict from guilty to innocent (which is better than not-guilty) so that we will become like Him.  1 Corinthians 15:57 But thanks be to God, who keeps giving us the victory through our Lord Yeshua the Messiah!

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
Fri 3-Feb-2023 12th of Sh’vat, 5783
Ex 16:11-36 1 Ki 21     Ps 119:121-144 Jn 4:31-54 (1 Th 5)