DO NOT ACCEPT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN

DO NOT ACCEPT THE GRACE OF GOD IN VAIN

Fr Luke A Veronis

 

Do not to accept the grace of God in vain.

What do these words of Saint Paul, which we heard in today’s Epistle reading, mean? How could someone accept the grace of God in vain?

Well, right before Saint Paul warns us of this, he highlights what Christ did for us. Jesus died for us, that for us who live we should live no longer for ourselves, but for Christ who died for us and rose again. Then He notes one of the most beautiful promises in all of Holy Scripture – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”

In Christ Jesus, we become new! Old things pass away; our sinful mistakes and old habits that turn us away from God; our past regrets and fallen, distorted worldview. In Christ we become a new creation, a new reality! We have a new beginning! Imagine what a gift this is when we truly understand it and embrace it!

The Apostle Paul goes on to explain how we are reconciled with God. The separation that existed between humanity and God is now repaired. We have direct access to the Lord Almighty as His beloved children. And in our divine reconciliation, He now invites us to become His ambassador in helping others find the same reconciliation and discover their own new life in Christ!

Wow! How exciting is this understanding of our Faith – to realize that the old passes away and we have become a new creation. To appreciate that we have been reconciled with the Lord and have direct access to Him. To fathom that He invites us to act as His ambassador in the world sharing this Good News and helping others enter into this righteous relationship with God.

What a gift we have received! Yet, here is where Saint Paul goes on to warn us – “Do not accept the grace of God in vain.” In other words, don’t become a new creation, be reconciled with God, and act as an ambassador of Christ, receiving all these gifts only to turn away from Him in the end. When we don’t respect the precious gift that God has given us, and we don’t strive to fulfill our potential in Him, then we have turned our backs on the Lord Jesus and “we accepted the grace of God in vain.”

This is a scary and sobering warning. Yet, we can see how it relates to the Gospel story we heard today about the man who gave different talents to his three servants. In Jesus’ time, a talent was a a weight of about 75 lbs of a particular metal, typically gold or silver. Thus, it was equivalent to a great sum of money. The Master gave each servant a special gift, whether five talents, two talents, or one talent, according to their ability. And he expected each to use his talents accordingly.

These servants needed to heed the words of Saint Paul to be careful not to accept the grace of God in vain. In other words, don’t accept the talents from the Master if you aren’t going to use them and increase them. The first two servants took their talents and doubled them. The one given five increased them by five. The one with two increased them by two. The lazy servant took his one talent and returned it to his master with no increase, only excuses why he didn’t do anything with the talent he received.

Do not to accept the grace of God in vain.

Of course, when we hear this Gospel story of the talents, we understand how each of us have received special blessings from God in our lives. Think about all the blessings you have received from your childhood. Blessings of family. Blessings in the Church and with our faith. Blessings in education and opportunities. Blessings with various mentors and friends. Blessings you’re your health and the gift of life. How have we been blessed by God?

When we receive our countless blessings from God, what do we do with them? Do we keep them for ourselves and maybe share them only with our family and friends? If we are egocentric in how we treat our blessings, then we are receiving the grace of God in vain.

Or do we appreciate the blessings of life as gifts that God, as the talents He has given us, and then do we strive to increase them so that we can share them with others?

Here is a fundamental secret of our faith. The way we value God’s blessings and increase them is by sharing His blessings with others. The paradox of our Faith is that the more we give away, the more blessings we receive. This is why Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give then to receive.” As we give and share, we enter deeper into the blessings of God!

Think about the most precious gifts of life – the virtues of love, joy, peace, hope, faithfulness, goodness, and humility. These virtues are what fill our lives with God’s Presence and help us discover the meaning of life. Yet with each of these virtues, the more we want to receive them and have them grow in our lives, we discover that we increase them by sharing them, by giving them freely to others.

The more we love others, the more we will feel the love of God and others. The more we express gratitude for everything in life, the more we cultivate eyes to see God’s blessings everywhere and we become grateful for even the smallest things. The more we enter into the joy of the Lord and radiate this divine joy to others, the more this divine joy increases in the depths of our soul. The more mercy we shower upon others, the more we experience mercy in our own lives.

We don’t accept the grace of God in vain when we share that grace with everyone we encounter. God’s divine grace only increases.

This is what Jesus meant in today’s parable when he said, “To the one who has, more will be given.” The servant who was faithful with the five talents he received, and increased them with five more talents, not only entered into the joy of His Lord, but was entrusted with even more talents.

We have received the most incredible blessings from God. Our old fallen nature has passed away and we have become a new creation. We have been reconciled with the Lord and have direct access to Him. We have been called to act as His ambassador in the world sharing His Good News with everyone and inviting them to also enter into a right relationship with God.

May we be good and faithful stewards with these gifts and increase the talents given to us by freely sharing them with others.

Let us not accept the grace of God in vain!

 

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