Monday, February 15, 2021

The Grace That Does For Others

For a while I have been exploring the theme of doing things for the sake of someone else. I realize that this comes down to three general expressions.

First, there is what God does for our sakes. Second, there is what we do for God’s sake. Third, there is what we do for the sake of others because of what we are doing for God’s sake (which happens to be our response to what he is doing in us for our sakes).

This morning, the thing that is standing out is the connection between the activity of the grace of God (for our sakes) and what we end up doing for the sake of others (God and people together). It began here:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor,
so that you by his poverty might become rich.[1]

What stood out is that “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” was expressed in what he did “for your sake”. Grace is God’s undeserved favor actively working in our lives for good. Paul is reminding the believers of this in the greatest expression of grace ever, that Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, made himself poor in earthly standing, submitting to servanthood and the humiliating death of crucifixion.

However, there is a pattern in this we need to notice, that God’s grace was expressed in doing something undeservedly good for others with the aim of bringing about an experience of goodness to the measure of God’s good, acceptable and perfect will.[2]

We find that this is the pattern expressed in the very familiar description of salvation:

For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.[3]

This gives the big picture of what it looks like when God’s undeserved favor touches lives. It first awakens to the life of faith, and then it sends us on our way doing the good works we were designed to express.

This being true, what would we see happening wherever God’s grace was actively working? The workmanship of God (the church) expressing the good works we were designed to walk in.

When I began looking at the context of the initial verse, I discovered that this was exactly what Paul described.

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.[4]

Paul is talking about “the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia”. How did he know the grace of God was evident? In the extreme expression of generosity towards others.

If we looked at this without the grace of God, we would have a bunch of people going through “a severe test of affliction” in their own strength, thinking of themselves and how hard it was for them, perhaps becoming overwhelmed with depression and hopelessness because nothing was working their way, and then scrimping and saving every morsel of everything they had to eke out a living and take care of their own.

However, when we look at this through the activity of the grace of God what do we see? We see people going through “a severe test of affliction,” responding with “their abundance of joy”, combining this with “their extreme poverty” so that they “overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”

The point is that Paul attributes the joy and generosity to the grace of God that was at work in these people, and the way he knew that God was doing something for their sakes was the way he was leading those people to do something abundantly generous for the sake of others.

I cannot escape the imagery of the vine and the branches that Jesus uses to teach us how to abide in him.[5] There is no doubt that there is a saturation of grace in our lives when the eternal Son of God wants us sinners to have the experience of abiding in him.

However, what Jesus describes as giving the Father glory is that the branches bear much fruit.[6] The grace that Jesus flows into our lives in the way a vine sends its sap through the branches is for the purpose of the branches bearing fruit in the lives of others.

I can already see that II Corinthians 8 is going to be a fascinating and transforming expression of grace in that it shows me so much of what God is doing right now to actively lead me into undeserved blessings of his favor. However, it is already standing out that God was bringing people together into so many interwoven relationships to express his grace in good works that I know that his grace through his word is leading me and you to do the same.

No wonder Paul concludes his description of “the surpassing grace of God upon you”, by declaring his praise, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” The grace of God had united so many people then, and through the record of those interactions continues to unite people today in the activity of God, that whatever we participate in that weaves together what God is doing for our sakes, what we are doing for his sake, and what we are doing for the sake of others on his behalf, can only be explained as an expression of God’s “surpassing grace”.

What do I expect to happen as a result of what God is speaking to me/us about? That we will feel the Spirit moving us to actively bless others in Jesus’ name, and that we will have divine appointments with people that God personally chooses to share in the grace of God with us. As we express our attachment to God in faith, and our attachment to others in love, we will find that Jesus’ joy is graciously filling our own joy to the full, enhanced by the joy of being part of returning others to joy, which then blows our minds as we realize how that leads us into greater joy than any self-centered pursuits have ever accomplished.

And when we see all that happening in real life relationships, we will know the grace of God is being poured out among us.


© 2021 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)



[1] II Corinthians 8:9

[2] As seen in Romans 12:1-2

[3] Ephesians 2:8-10

[4] II Corinthians 8:1-2

[5] This is found in John 15 (particularly John 15:1-11) which is part of Jesus’ final teachings to his disciples immediately prior to his arrest and crucifixion as recorded in John 13-17.

[6] John 15:8