Grace Is Not Cute

Grace is spoken of with relative ease in Evangelical circles. As much as the word “Gospel” is thrown around, so too is “grace;” yet, I wonder if we really understand the weight of the word, the depth in it, or what it really constitutes. 

Grace sounds so sweet, doesn’t it? The word conjures up images of a doe, perhaps a ballerina, or, in the context of Christianity, maybe a nice, benevolent deity who showers us with love and sort of laughs off our rebellion like many parents do when their children disobey them: “Oh, Johnny, you silly boy, don’t pull your sister’s hair, [ha ha, giggle giggle].”

The grace of God is not like this. Just a cursory reading of the New Testament reveals the power and depth of grace, but it is perhaps most evident in the first two chapters of Ephesians. There we see that grace originates from “God the Father” (1:2), that the Father’s love for us—His adopted sons (1:5)—since before oceans and stars were created, terminates with us praising this “glorious grace” (1:6), and that we have been redeemed “through his blood … according to the riches of his grace” (1:7).

Grace comes from the Father.

Grace enables sons to praise the Father’s glory.

Grace bleeds out.

As well, though we were dead—no spiritual heartbeat, no life, no breath—the Father “made us alive together with [the Son], by grace you have been saved” (2:5). Eternity is needed for us to swim the depths of the Father’s “immeasurable riches of grace” that have drowned all of our sin (2:7). We have been given grace—not because of great works we have done, not because we deserved it—but as a “gift of God [the Father]” (2:8).

Grace makes dead things alive.

Grace drowns sin and is eternally deep.

Grace is a gift from the Father to His sons.

Grace is not cute and sweet. Grace is God on a tree—a bloody cross and an empty tomb. Grace is costly for the giver, but free for the recipient. Grace will tear you apart, and then put you back together. Biblical grace is powerful.

You cannot change your child’s heart. The only hope your children have is to experience the grace of the Father. Your desire should be that your children experience the same grace you are experiencing. This means, as Elyse Fitzpatrick says, “Parenting is partnering.”

 We are to partner with our children, walk with them, showing them their need for grace by showing them your need for grace and by imaging the Father’s grace to them. What are your other options?

Your intimidation, your threats, your raised voice, even your biblical discipline, your family devotionals, and your religious activities can do nothing to change your children—they are dead spiritually (Eph. 2:1). In the first half of Romans, the Apostle Paul juxtaposes the Law and the Gospel, showing that the Law was powerless to change us: 

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20–21)

When we try to image the Law, and not the grace of God, we exasperate our children. We are not good law-givers. As Paul Tripp says, “The law changes everyday, some days I am tolerant, others I am less so. Our children, then, have to be emotional weathermen, ‘What’s dad’s temperature today?’”

Even if we were perfect in our law-giving, it would just “increase the trespass,” acting as a mirror to condemn our children because they are unable to meet the law’s requirements.

The only hope, therefore, is that we would lavish the same grace the Father has given us on our children, partnering with them, unsurprised by their sin, standing ready to extend grace—the same grace we have received.

This is an excerpt from my book, Like Father, Like Sons, which can be purchased on Amazon