Posted in theology

Summer, one of the common graces of life

By Elizabeth Prata

I drove up to meet a friend at Dunkin Donuts. We were meeting to have a coffee and talk and probably laugh and generally have a nice social time together.

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I love to look at the scenery as I drive. I live in a rural area and instead of the waves on the ocean that I used to see in my former state of Maine, I see rolling pastures and waves of wildflowers. Today as I trundled up the road, I viewed fields embrowned with crunchy grass heated under a southern sun. The horses grazing in the pasture swishing their tails in a synchronized busy back and forth, swatting away the buzzing flies bothering them under the southern sun. Wrinkled balloons tied to a mailbox bobbed hopefully in the heat, welcoming someone to a shower or a graduation or birthday.

All these are signals of life. People and animals living their lives, of the cycles of seasons progressing through the calendar. Right now it’s June, the start of summer. More heat is to come, haying, parades, festivals, front porches, fireflies, and thunderstorms. Then high heat, drooping and tired. Finally fall with relief breaking through and banishing the humidity to its seasonal corner. Cool fresh winds come. Then the dead winter, but live oaks’ greenery still dots the fields, the pastures brown again but not brittle, soft under a haze of sparkling frost.

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In Hebrews 1:3b we read that Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power. Paul explains to the Gentiles in Acts 14:17, “yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.

We often say if we hit a roadblock in life or when dealing with a trial, “Life goes on.” But have you ever wondered why life goes on? Why seasons go on? Why the moon stays in its orbit? Why the stars circle the dark sky night after night? Why? How does corn grow? What is the miracle of birth? Why are we here?

If we stick our finger in a bucket of water and then take it out, it doesn’t leave a hole. It fills in. Whether we exist or not, life goes on just the same. Why?

I wondered those things before I was saved. All people do, if they’re honest. Romans 1:19 says so. All humans in all creation can plainly see the evidence of God through what He has created. His common grace is given to all. What a precious gift!

Please read and reflect on this short devotional by RC Sproul on common grace and Providence:

Providence And Common Grace by RC Sproul

[God] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. - Matthew 5:45b

Reflect on God’s works of creating and preserving the universe for any length of time, and it will soon become apparent just how gracious He is. Since God is not dependent on anything outside Himself, He did not create the universe by necessity, nor can His creation obligate Him to preserve its existence. That the universe continues on at all is entirely the result of His free choice to sustain and preserve it. Because of His promises, we can trust that He certainly will preserve His creation (see Gen. 8:22, for example). But His promises are gracious promises. He did not have to make them, so He sustains His creation entirely by grace.

God’s preservation of His creation is part of His work of providence, but it also reflects what theologians have called His common grace. In general, grace can refer to anything the Lord does for His creatures that they do not deserve. Most commonly, we speak of grace in a salvific sense, in a manner that refers to God’s gift of salvation to undeserving sinners. However, our Creator also shows grace in a non-salvific sense. He gives gifts to undeserving sinners that do not result in their salvation. Such gifts are bestowed by His common grace.

In today’s passage, Jesus references God’s common grace by telling His disciples that He “makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt. 5:45b). Whether we have been reconciled to our Creator or not, as creatures we are owed nothing from our Creator. We take the regularity of nature for granted, the sun and the rain that make it possible to grow crops that allow us to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves. But the sun and the rain should not be taken for granted, for they are gifts from God’s hand. And He is so exceedingly gracious that He gives these gifts to people regardless of whether He has adopted them as His children in Christ.

God’s common grace is just that—common. Unlike the special, saving grace that God bestows on those whom He has chosen for salvation, common grace is indiscriminate. This grace is what leaves all people without an excuse. No one can stand before the Lord on the last day and claim that they do not owe Him thanks, for God has given even the basest sinner the gift of life. That human beings made in His image ignore and reject Him even after being shown common grace shows us just how desperate our condition is apart from His special grace.

Coram Deo
Many people rail against the Lord, believing that they deserve a better life than the one they have received. God’s common grace, however, reminds us that as creatures we are undeserving even of our very existence. May that lead us to a more sober reflection on who we are and to greater humility when we approach our Maker in prayer

Passages for Further Study
Psalm 145:9
Matthew 6:25–34
Acts 14:17
Romans 2:4
Providence And Common Grace, First published in Tabletalk Magazine, an outreach of Ligonier Ministries 
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Author:

Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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