Unexpected Grace

“A good man obtains favor from the lord. Proverbs 12:2 NIV

“Favor happens when nothing you have done entitles you to receive what you need.”

My thoughts today are about “unexpected grace.”

“Could I ask you a favor?Ever ask someone to do something for you, though you had no basis of appeal except for their kindness and generosity? It might be as simple as asking someone for the time of day, or when needing directions, or when you have run out of gas. They don’t have to; they don’t owe you. If they help you, it is their grace to do so, a willingness to do a favor.

Realistically, everyone needs a favor at one time or another, often small, sometimes larger. You will need a favor, and you will see someone who needs the same. Stop and think. Remember an occasion when nothing you had done entitled you to receive what you needed? Let me tell you about one of mine.

I was returning from a wedding, dressed in my “wedding best” on a blistering hot summer day in San Antonio. Almost an hour from home on a busy freeway, the unexpected happened – a flat tire! The air felt like an oven as I stepped out of the car. My finest black suit, and my freshly starched white shirt would never be the same again, about to be casualties of a very inconvenient mishap. I remembered a previous time this had occurred and how the jack was inadequate for the large SUV, and how long I struggled to successfully jack up the car sufficiently to change the tire, also on a busy freeway.

And then it happened; grace and favor came to where I was, just when I most needed! A pick-up truck slowed and pulled over in front of my disabled SUV. I heard an unfamiliar, but friendly, voice say, “Here, let me do that for you.” My very own Good Samaritan! I thanked him, weakly protesting that I did not want to trouble him; thankfully, he insisted, refusing my offer to at least help him.

I had no right or opportunity to ask. He saw my need, and offered. Within a few minutes he and his son had efficiently cared for the task with his own substantial jack and tools, stored the old tire, and headed to their truck. I followed them, offering several times to pay him – cash in hand – for his kindness; with a smile and thank you, he refused. He expected nothing in return except my gratitude.

That day a father left a lasting example and indelible impression on his young son, more than his words ever could. That dad did not help because he had to, or because he knew me, or even to receive anything in return. I received favor – sheer grace! Grace costs someone, while requiring nothing of you except thankfulness. He interrupted his journey, so I could continue on mine. I watched; he worked. His clothes were sweaty and soiled; mine were not. His hands were dirty; mine were clean.

To me, that sounds like Jesus! He took your place on a cross, dying for your sins not His own. No wonder they call that amazing grace! The Bible uses the words grace and favor interchangeably. Your Bible concordance is filled with references to grace and favor, mostly from God to man, occasionally man to man as with Joseph. “And the Lord was with Joseph, so Joseph found favor in (Potiphar’s) eyes.Genesis 39:4. Often the phrase is as was referenced to Noah, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8.

Grace by its very definition cannot be earned, no matter how hard or long you work. Favor cannot be demanded or expected. Both are gifts freely given. God is looking for opportunities to show you His grace and grant His favor. See 2 Chronicles 16:9 NIV. How then do you experience such favor and grace? It’s simple, really. Recognize your need; honestly and humbly ask God for help; accept His offer. See Ephesians 2:1-10.

My prayer for you today is that your life is crowned with man’s favor and God’s grace.