“For God saved us and called us to live a holy life. He did this, not because we deserved it, but because that was his plan from before the beginning of time—to show us his grace through Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 1:9 NLT).
Before there was sin, there was grace.
Before there was time, there was grace.
Grace before time.
For years I have pondered God’s relationship with time. I have wrestled with the idea that God, as an eternal being, exists outside the realm of time. The result of trying to get my mind around God and time has been praise. As God is revealed, I am moved to praise God for what I can know and understand.
But on the outer edges of revelation — some smooth edges and some rough edges — there are hints of a God beyond our capacity to fully comprehend. As we understand the revelation of God I am moved to praise. But as I consider what is out there beyond those edges of revelation, I stand in awe of God’s mystery before falling on my knees in adoration. Paul’s description of grace before time both reveals God and hints at more than we are able to fully comprehend.
So why does Paul tell us there was grace before time? Because grace is in the nature of God. Grace is in the character of God. Grace is at the center of God’s heart. So gracious is God that before time began, God planned to show grace through Jesus.
I want to know the grace of God. I don’t mean know that I am saved by grace or that I live by grace — I have come to understand that intellectually and emotionally. But I want to know the grace of God in the sense that I want my nature to be grace. I want my character to be grace. I want my very heart to be grace. And I want to show that grace to people no matter how they behave themselves or how they treat me.
Often that is not the case.
When I am relating to others and thinking about what they might do or say I often plan my response in advance. “If she says this, here’s what I will do. If he does that, this is how I will respond.” My relationship strategy often flows from my fleshly nature rather than from grace. I automatically respond with indignation, self-righteousness, criticism, even judgment. I want my heart to be filled with godly grace rather than harsh judgment. I want my automatic response, no matter what she says or he does, to flow from a heart of grace.
I want to be like God — a God of grace before time.
Gracious Father God,
As Your nature is revealed, I respond with praise.
As I encounter the outer edges of revelation, I respond with praise.
For what I know about You makes me adore You.
And what I don’t know brings me to my knees in worship.
You are a gracious God.
You are a God of grace.
Grace before sin.
Grace before time.
And I want to be like You, gracious Father.
Fill my heart with grace.
Take away the judgmental spirit.
Reform my critical nature.
Ease my desire for revenge.
Relieve any anger or bitterness in my heart.
Pour out Your grace.
Until my heart is full.
Then keep pouring out Your grace.
Until my heart is overflowing.
And I am gracious, like You.
In Jesus’ name,