Oh The Riches of His Grace

I read recently about a business executive whose work was to continually conduct interviews of people who were seeking positions in his corporation. This man insisted on having a long office with his desk opposite the door where the applicants had to enter. As they would walk across the room to take their place in front of him, he would watch them intently. By the time they were seated he already knew what he was going to do about their application.

I'm not saying this is a good way to judge and classify people—by initial impressions—but, unfortunately, most of us do it, either consciously or unconsciously. We make quick decisions, quite unfairly, based on how we respond to an individual's walk, smile or haircut.

Let me ask you a question. Does God judge us in the same way that we judge each other? Aren't you glad He doesn't? He looks at the same people we do, but the Bible says that He does everything "according to the riches of His grace." And what a difference that makes! Man looks on the outward appearance but God looks on the heart.

One of the strangest texts in the Bible is found in 1 Corinthians 1:27, 28. Paul wrote, "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty." How is that possible? Our human reasoning says that it can never be done. How could lowly, ignorant people or things be used to embarrass the intelligence of the highly educated?

I came across the answer to these questions as I studied the manner in which Jesus called His disciples. Think of it for a moment. The Master needed men who could help Him communicate a life or death message to every country and in all the languages on earth. Suppose you had faced such a task? Where would you have looked for qualified spokesmen and personal representatives? I can't answer for others but I think I would have headed straight for the university centers where linguistics and communication skills were honed to perfection.

Jesus didn't do that. He passed by the great rabbinical schools of His day, and went down by the seaside where men were casting their nets for fish. There He called His disciples from among those who were rough and crude and even vulgar. He chose some who could not speak properly, even in their own provincial dialect! How could those uneducated peasants from the lowest levels of society ever meet the requirements of His worldwide mission? Why didn't He select scholars of Greek and Hebrew culture who would know how to relate to people in every social circumstance? Let's see if we can find the answers.

In the little fishing village of Bethsaida one bright early morning, the fishermen were taking care of the night's catch. Among those who toiled with the nets and fish was one brawny, hardheaded fellow by the name of Simon Peter. Perhaps he was humming one of the rough folk songs of the sea as he worked at cleaning his catch for the market. Not for a moment did he realize that something would happen to him that day that would bring his name to the lips of millions down though the ages. Peter was just an obscure fisherman when Jesus of Nazareth passed by and looked at him.

What did Christ see as He looked at Peter on that memorable morning? Certainly not the same thing that everyone else saw. You see, the big fisherman was not a very lovable character. He was boastful and arrogant to such a degree that people probably avoided him whenever possible. This impulsive, bumbling man was always putting his foot in his mouth and saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It almost seems, from the limited record, that he was the kind of man that only his mother could love. But that is not the man Jesus saw as He looked at Peter that day!

Jesus saw the real fisherman. He looked beneath that rough exterior and saw what this braggart could become through the riches of His grace. He saw a man who could stand up and preach a sermon that would bring thousands to the altar crying out "What shall I do to be saved?" And because He recognized what this diamond in the rough could become through the power of grace, Jesus loved him and called him to be a disciple. Isn't that wonderful? And that's why you and I are where we are right now. It's why we're not pulling the smelly nets of sin around anymore. Jesus passed by and looked at us. He didn't see us as we were, but as we might become through His marvelous transforming power. Oh, the riches of His grace!

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