I shared last week that love is unconditional, but grace always has conditions and expectations.
Grace always has boundaries, rules, limitations. Even in the giving to the widows in Ephesus, Paul tells Timothy only give to those widows who have no other family for they are supposed to be caring for them, and that those women are known to have been active volunteering their time and talents serving others. To those who want something for nothing, Paul says refuse. There are qualifications to receiving that grace in the first place, and an expectation upon receiving it. I Timothy 5: 9-13
A Purpose is always attached when grace is given
There is no such thing as a no conditions, no expectations giving of grace. Even when you buy that little puppy or kitten and take it home, you expect to receive emotional benefits from them. When a parent allows their child to get a pet, the child usually recognizes the condition of grace with this plea: "I'll take care of it, I'll feed it, I"ll water it, I'll clean up after it, I promise..." :) Sure you will. The parent will use the grace to teach the child responsibility. There is alway purpose attached to grace.
In II Timothy 1:9 we find this statement: "He (Father) is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works, but on His (Father's) own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before times eternal."
Grace is not given with the purpose of a Christian living in continual sin. It doesn't require perfection, but grace expects growth, progress, a maturing process. It is a holy calling, extended with purpose.
That He gave us salvation in Christ before times eternal according to HIs purpose, show us that God does have a plan for our life, both now and in the ages to come. We are already in eternity even as we live on this earth, so the uncovering of His purpose will take (literally) forever to unfold in our lives.
If a person you've extended grace fails in purpose, there is a point you stop giving the grace. When Israel left Egypt they failed the grace 10 times. When they failed that 10th time, the Lord said in Numbers 14: 21-23 they had crossed into judgment. (Last month's teaching series was about the lessons they should have learned, "Treasures Found in the Wilderness" and has some great lessons for us today)
Jesus told us in Matthew 5: 39-41 that having been slapped once, offer the other cheek- but no more. He said if they take away our coat, give them another one as well - but no more. He said if they compelled us to walk 1 mile, walk it plus 1 more - but no more after that. Grace has limits, after which we conclude; 'no more grace can be extended'.
You've done your part in extending grace. It is now up to them to stand or fall on their own merits. Anything past that is enabling their sin. Where to draw that line differs in each case, and we have to trust the Lord in determining that point.
But I can say from scripture we are not to sacrifice our own family and financial and emotional well being while causing another to be better off. Paul said of giving to others in II Corinthians 8: 12-14: "If a person is willing to give, it is figured according to what they have, not according to what they don't have. For I don't want you to be burdened while easing their need...but now at this time of your abundance you may give..."
We give what we can, and we don't get a loan to give beyond what we have on hand, for giving should never burden the giver while enriching the receiver. That's not grace, that's well meaning hearts acting unwisely. God must be their source, they must stand on their own two feet, or fall. You've done your part at that extra cheek, extra coat, extra mile. Now it is their turn to rise up in maturity. If they don't, it's their fault not yours.
Grace is holy
Notice also that Paul said He has called us "with a holy calling, not according to anything we've done, but according to His own purpose and grace."
The grace of our salvation is holy - meaning it is something special. In the natural, when you give or loan money to your family or friend for a purpose, that relationship between you and them is special, holy, in a word. There is a purpose to the grace you've given them, and you expect them to recognize and value what you've done as special - that is holiness. It is a unique relationship you have with them and you expect them to esteem that, to value it. The same is true of us and our salvation, which came at such a great cost. It is holy, grace is holy, grace has a holy purpose. Grace is not extended that we might say 'free to sin', but rather 'free to do what is right, free to grow'.
When someone you extend grace to abuses the grace, never entering into the purpose for which it was extended, they demonstrate they do not value what you've done, it's nothing special to them their actions have proven. They don't understand your relationship as 'holy', special, unique. At that point they cross the line to judgment - you cut them off. No more grace can be extended because of their actions. They did it to themselves.
Grace has nothing to do with you; it's not about you
Notice that the Father gave us Christ before times eternal. His grace was given before times eternal. That means grace is 100% dependent on the giver of grace. The receiver of grace has nothing to do with it. The receiver of grace can't influence the giver one way or the other because the grace is in the heart of the giver. The grace to forgive you for next year's sin was already given before the world ever came into being. The cross is the legal way He did it 2000 years ago - but His heart that forgave us was already settled before Genesis ever opens up with 'In the beginning'.
Whether it be the love for a child, pet, or something you collect, you can't explain why you love them, you just do. The grace you have in your heart towards them is totally within you - even if that child or pet does the worst thing imaginable, you still love them because it is just within you to love them. That's grace. They have nothing to do with your grace and love for them - it's in your heart and nothing can ever change that.
God gave us grace with purpose according to Him and only Him. It is totally dependent on Him and there is nothing you can do that would separate you from that love. Neither can you improve on that grace and love.
You can't fast enough, give enough, live holy enough to impress Him because grace was given to you before creation happened. You can't fail enough to cause Him to have regrets even when He has to clean up your messes repeatedly because the grace was in His heart before creation came into existence. It's not a religion, it's a relationship. Relationships empower, religion restricts. Amazing grace...we'll pick it up there next week, until then, blessings,
www.cwowi.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org