I hear it all the time. People want to downplay grace by pointing to “sloppy agape” or “cheap grace”.
They want to make sure us grace folk do not go too far in our communication of this truth, causing people to abuse it.
They feel the need to remind us of consequences and judgment while making statements like, “God will not be mocked”.
The problem does not lie with grace.
In fact, there is no such thing as cheap grace.
Sin, mistakes, or poor decisions always have consequences. A bad decision will bear fruit in the life of the individual or the community around that person.
In our missions organization, the issue of finances comes up frequently. We might decide to show someone mercy on their debt, forgiving it. That might be considered sloppy, but the there are still consequences. The organization must absorb that debt (or consequences.) Trust me, when we look at our balance sheet, that would be “expensive grace.”
The Apostle Paul would have gotten pretty riled up over this notion of cheap grace.
In the first century, there were defenders of “truth” who were worried about this too. The natural response of people to “protect grace” is to add Law or self effort, so grace is not abused.
If we compare Paul’s attitude towards sin (1 Corinthians, Timothy’s) to his hatred of works over grace (Galatians), there is no contest.
Paul would have taken sinners wrestling with the truth of the gospel over rules and regulations meant to protect grace any day of the week. Grace does not need your protection.
We must stop tarnishing the beauty of the gospel for fear it might be abused.
No grace is cheap. To say so spits in the face of Christ.
Even if it appears someone is “getting away” with sin or we are erring in our discipleship of someone; grace is not the problem.
The problem lies with our discipleship or leadership. We are the problem, not grace.
Every sin or bad decision has consequences. These apply to the individual, family, communities, but ultimately Christ. There is always a price, with Jesus paying the maximum.
That is grace. It’s not fair. But, it is beautiful.
Can we stop pointing the finger at grace? No grace is cheap.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying change does not need to happen. But the focus of our change is misdirected.
Grace has no need to be adjusted, managed, or distributed in small doses.
Instead, let’s consider our leadership, our parenting, and our walking with people.
The problem lies with us, not grace.
Let’s stop attempting to cover up the glory and beauty of grace with a blanket of works and self effort. When we stare into the pure truth of grace, it will begin to affect our hearts and minds.