Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"By grace alone" is a motto of our Lutheran church. What does this mean? It comes from the same Latin word as free, as in complimentary. Free means "no money" or "priceless". Why are not all things in the world free? Why do you need money to get something from the bodega, market or any other business?
Currency is a medium of exchange. The owner of the bodega or market requires it to pay suppliers and workers, suppliers to pay producers and workers, producers their workers to support their families. Therefore, almost all things have a price. The exception is when someone else pays the price and gives you a gift.
Why are gifts given? Many times out of love. Love is truly free in the sense of "priceless". Love is one of the most precious things, beyond any amount of currency. True love must be a gift in itself, and results in many gifts for the beloved by the sacrifice of those that love him. For example, our parents. Who can reward their parents for their sacrifices, their gifts, their love? No one really.
God is just and merciful. Both attributes are part of the divine nature. His justice is perfect. Also, perfect is his mercy, based on his perfect love. Because of His perfect justice, God hates evil and demands it be punished. At the same time, by His perfect love, God does not want the ruin of his creatures, especially of us humans.
So He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to pay the price for our sins on the cross and gives us the promise of eternal life as a gift that we receive in holy baptism. Therefore, we confess only by the grace of God we are saved.
However, there is more. According to our text for today, and also our reading of the Old Testament (1 Kings 17:8-16), we receive not only the hope of eternal life, but all good things by grace. We deserve nothing from the hand of God, but God provides everything.
In fact, in His mercy God provides for believers, unbelievers, and all creation. Says our Lord: "Behold the fowls of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are ye not much better than they? And which of you, by taking thought, can add to his stature one cubit? And for clothes, why do you worry? Consider how the lilies of the field grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of them. And if the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God clothes, will he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?"
We confess in the Apostles' Creed, "I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth." What does that mean according to the Catechism?
"I believe God created me and all creatures, gives me body and soul, eyes, ears, and all members, reason and all the senses, and still sustains them, and also clothing and footwear, food and drink , house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle and all goods, daily and abundantly provides everything I need to support this body and life, protects me and keeps me from all danger and preserves me from all evil, and all this out of pure goodness and fatherly and divine mercy, without me in any way deserving or being worthy of it."
There's still more. If God asks us to do something in His name, He promises us everything necessary to achieve it. Now, some preachers say if you have enough faith, God gives you everything you want, a big house, car, more money, etc. But, God's blessings are not rewards for an expression of faith on our part (because faith is a gift from God as well), but there are special gifts for the work of the kingdom of God. They also are gifts of love and mercy, not ours by right.
In reading the Old Testament, God sent the prophet Elijah in a time of persecution and a great drought to a widow. "... And he said, 'Please bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And she was going to fetch it, he called back and said, 'Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand. She answered, as the LORD your God lives, I have not a cake, only a handful of meal in a barrel I have, and a little oil in a cruse: and am gathering two sticks, to go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not, go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little first cake baked under the ashes, and bring it unto me, and afterward make for thee and for thy son. For the Lord God of Israel, says: 'The jar of meal shall not waste, nor the cruse of oil decrease, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth. Then she went and did as Elijah said, and he ate, and she and her house, many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil waned, according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Elijah."
We also should have no fear, nor be anxious for our lives, what we wll eat, or what do we have to drink, nor about our bodes, what we have to wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. But let us seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to us, because everything is by grace.
The peace that passes all understanding be with you forever. Amen.
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