I have a conference coming up in April, and I’m working on finishing my notes for the sessions on Ephesians 1. I can’t stop digging in these words. Look at this:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us[b] for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known[c] to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
He lavished His grace on me–by choosing, by adopting, by redeeming, by forgiving. How often I find myself ready to assume that God withholds His riches from me because of my sin or distance! So many times I think that I know better than He does what I need, or that my designs would bring
me Him more glory than the path He has ordained for me. Why do I doubt my generous Father?
Dane Ortlund in his book Gentle and Lowly: the Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers reflects on God’s merciful treatment of His children in quoting the Puritain Thomas Goodwin:
If your heart be hard, his mercies are tender.
If your heart be dead, he has mercy to liven it.
If you be sick, he has mercy to heal you.
If you be sinful, he has mercies to sanctify and cleanse you.
As large and as various as are our wants, so large and various are his mercies. So we may come boldly to find grace and mercy to help us in time of need, a mercy for every need. All the mercies that are in his own heart he has transplanted into several beds in the garden of the promises. . .p. 131
The Father has placed His love and grace and mercy on His children. He isn’t stingy, doling out little bits here and there. Paul tell us that He is lavish–over the top, according to His riches in Christ.
Jesus asked in the Sermon on the Mount, “Who among you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” (You can watch this video of Bruce Kuhn working through this passage in the Gospel of Luke.) Jesus goes on in the parallel passage in Luke 6 to teach his disciples that they are to be merciful like their heavenly Father is merciful. What does that look like? A few crumbs rolling around in the bottom of your cup? No, “a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”
The Father in heaven knows how to give good gifts. And He does so lavishly, richly, immeasurably, out of His great wealth, according to His good pleasure.
Is this generosity because I am something special or because my service is exemplary? Is all this vast wealth of mercy a response to my value? I am a beneficiary, for sure, but not the cause. No, there is a greater reason behind God’s lavish care–so that I might bring praise to Christ.
May the truth of the lavish mercy of our kind Father shine in our hearts today as we make much of Jesus.