Cheap Grace

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.Β  ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
I had an interesting conversation with a friend. She said she reads my other blog but not this one because: I just can’t get into all the sweet grace stuff. I don’t buy it. I’m not there and I don’t want to hear about it.
This friend is a Christian which added to the impact of her statement. Her comment has been circling my head for days. Have I been touting sweet grace? Do I coat grace with a pleasing to the palette shell?
I believe the Good New is good. I want these two minutes to be thoughtful and encouraging.
But that doesn’t mean I take grace lightly.
Grace is a lot of things but it isn’t sweet.
Grace is a messy, bloody business.
Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us.
I try never to confuse free with cheap.

That’s what makes it amazing!

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

43 thoughts on “Cheap Grace”

  1. Oh how true Debbie. …and you used one of my favorites to quote this time. Bonhoeffer truly displayed how much grace costs by being a living example of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. I know, many argue his methods were wrong, but his motives (heart) were right. People were being killed at the hands of an evil man, and he stood for them. Standing for them cost him everything. That sounds a lot like Jesus, if you ask me. The gospel calls us to spend and be spent for others… so that they may too experience that wonderful free grace you speak of. It is indeed free! But it is by no means cheap! It cost God everything… exactly what we should be willing to give. Marvelous message, good friend… I pray this dear friend of yours will also taste of this indescribable grace that is equally available to her. By the way, grace flows from the Fork just like here, friend (Pot Pie said so)… God bless!

    1. Hello MT!
      How very fun to see you!
      Thank you for your prayers for my friend. She’s in a dark place right now, but there are glimpses of light.
      Please extend my thanks and a hearty belly rub to Pot Pie!
      Tell him he’s second only to Henry VIII in my book! πŸ˜€
      love and grace to you, my friend,
      ~ Debbie

  2. For myself I am grateful for the encouragement and grace. The world is hard and life is fraught with failure even with the best of my striving. His grace is all my hope in the world!

    1. Dear friend –
      Grace and I only met a few years ago… so I’m never quite sure if I’m off the beam a bit in my portrayal. You can help keep me on track. πŸ˜€
      ~ Debbie

  3. Hi, Debbie,
    Late to this conversation, but I kept thinking, as I read all these wonderful comments, and your graceful replies:
    Maybe the friend was thinking of the hymn, “Amazing Grace” where the word “sweet” does appear. Maybe she was just using an allusion to that hymn. Or maybe it is your own sweetness that bothers her, bringing conviction, although she cannot really put a finger on what is the problem. In the end, you have all these assurances that you are telling it right.
    Let me add mine: You are telling it right. I am a stickler for details about doctrine and you are telling it right. Love you. K

    1. Hello Katharine!
      That could very well color the picture.
      I hadn’t thought of “how sweet the sound” in light of this exchange. Maybe that’s why I like Grace Flows Down just a little bit better, although both songs are beautiful.

      Amazing grace, How sweet the sound
      Amazing love, Now flowing down
      From hands and feet, That were nailed to the tree
      As grace flows down and covers me

      Thank you for your thoughtful response and for your kind words,
      ~ Debbie

  4. I commend your friend for sharing their heart. They must trust you enough to be real. We all have had and have questions, doubts and fears that stop us up and yet make us search. It’s ok. God loves that person right where they are at. GRACE. He is patient and gentle. Many of our pasts have been difficult, painful and some downright horrifying.

    He has loved me through many a stuck times when I just couldn’t understand or accept His love. I’m humbled by His grace.

    I’m reminded to keep loving and praying.

    Thanks Debbie.

    1. Cathy,
      Me, too, to all that you’ve said.

      I thought she was very brave to share her heart with me.
      All we have to do is read David’s journals (Psalms) to see how gently God deals with us in our despair.

      Possibly I shouldn’t even have mentioned the moment (the conversation) that got me thinking about how I portray grace here. Maybe that clouded my point?
      I wanted highlight that:
      1. Believers struggle
      2. Free doesn’t equal sweet or cheap

      Our conversation was good for me and I think of more help to me than to my friend.
      I’m weary of all of the negative Christian messages, but I don’t want to be a peddler of “cheap grace” because nothing has cost so much… ever.

      Loving and praying with you, dear friend,
      ~ Debbie

  5. Praying for that dear friend, gracious one, because if they are believers in Him, they have indeed tasted how sweet grace can be. Overwhelming, powerful and enduring too. Thank you for bringing us grace offerings here, Jesus style! love you! God bless you as you continue to take a journey of grace!

    1. Deb –
      Thank you so much for praying.
      If I could cut off a piece of my peace and give it to her, I would – but that isn’t how it works.
      Prayer is how it works.
      Thank you, dear Deb,
      ~ Debbie

      1. I like that concept–“cutting off a piece of peace, to give”–regardless how limited the possibility. It reminds me that I’ve sometimes told people they can “borrow some of my faith” when theirs runs low–and I’ve done some borrowing, my own self! Maybe it’s not so impossible, Debbie–borrowed grace, peace, faith–when we’re stretched to the limit, wanting to give up. I’m not talking about for the purpose of salvation–but rather, standing in the gap (and Old Testament reference–it’s in there somewhere…) during tough times.

      2. Caddo –
        You’re right dear friend. I think we’re called to “stand in the gap” for each other. That would make a lovely poem! πŸ˜‰
        ~ Debbie

  6. Well, I’m floored by what your reader said, Debbie–just jaw-dropped stunned, can’t even believe it, but whatever. You know how I feel–about your wonderfully encouraging, thoughtful-thought-provoking blog–and about Amazing Grace. We, none of us, would be here without it–and I don’t care what a person’s theology is.

    His grace leads me through the days when the fog is so thick that it sticks in my throat–when I can’t see Him, can’t speak–and have no choice BUT to believe He IS There. His grace brings me through each and every storm so that I can get up and dance again.

    You’re so right that it’s neither cheap, nor sweet–Jesus gets down in the muck and brambles to pull us out, over and over, and over. Please keep bringing us the reminders of His Grace–it’s the richest Two Minutes of my day in the blogs. Love you~~sis Caddo (grace-redeemed)

    1. Dear Sis Caddo –
      My friend (who is an “in person” friend of many, many years) is in a place where “the fog is so thick that it sticks in my (her) throat–when I (she) can’t see Him, can’t speak…” She just doesn’t have the strength to cling to grace right now. She’s angry.

      Her words didn’t hurt me for me at all. It breaks my heart that she feels so alone. I wish I could cover her in a comforter of grace.
      I praying. I’m confident she’ll come through this and recapture her joy.
      Her words did challenge me to think carefully about how I portray grace, freely given at such an enormous cost – far beyond my ability to represent.
      I think most of us have been/or will be at some point, where my friend is now.

      It’s like trying to keep on swimming until the rescue boat finds you. Drowning eventually becomes tempting and the life ring can look like a hallucination.

      You and your courage and wisdom are such a grand example of being so much more than a “survivor”!

      Thank you for being my friend,
      ~ Debbie

      1. Oh dear, seems I wasn’t paying close enough attention, missed the mark for lack of grace–my apologies for misunderstanding. I well know the temptation of drowning and life rings, rafts that are in fact hallucinations sometimes. It is a horrible place to be–I repent of my uncharitable thoughts and will resume praying from a “right” heart. Loyalty’s a blunderous thing, some days… God bless us all with more grace.

      2. Oh dear Caddo –
        No apology. really. It’s nice to know someone has my back (which I do occasionally expose) πŸ˜‰
        The weakness was in the story telling, not in your response.
        My friend’s comment gave me true pause.
        I think the line is fine between conviction and opinion and presumption.
        When (not if) I error, I want to make sure it’s on the side of grace.
        Thank you for your wide open heart.
        ~ Debbie

    1. Ann –
      OK friend, you got me this time. I’ve never had anyone say thank you twice. I doubt if I’ve ever had anyone read a post twice. πŸ˜‰
      I’m honored and touched.
      Thank you so much,
      ~ Debbie

      1. God bless you, Dear Deb

        Amazing Grace is the song I sing … Grace can appear differently to individuals depending on where they are in life. At one point I turned my back on the Grace that beckoned to me and I wish I could redeem those times, but for now, I seize the moments to lavish praise on Him for the way He loves me.

        I am barely now getting a glimpse of what Grace can do. I cannot understand it. I don’t need to understand it – but I am thankful that Grace still amazes me πŸ™‚ !!

        And yes, I do read … over and over again. My blog covers many different topics so I thank you for providing a place where I can come and feed on Grace over and over again πŸ˜‰

        Covered by Grace,

      2. Dear Ann –
        Me, too – turned my back, and me, too – it still amazes me – more every day!
        You are such a sweet soul.
        Thank you for being here.
        ~ Debbie

  7. Debbie, I find that I don’t always agree with every single spiritual blog I read. It’s okay, because I accept those differences in our faiths. I take what I need at the moment, and if it’s sweet Grace, well then it’s meant to be. I truly believe I’m being lead to what I need to hear, and your blog is one of them. Blessings to you.

    1. Dear Lori –
      That’s part of the beauty of the blogging world to me. There’s so much wisdom scattered all over that I often back into it in the most surprising ways. And when we don’t agree, that’s fine, too.
      None of us got the message on Mount Sinai. πŸ˜‰
      Love and grace to you, Lori!
      ~ Debbie

  8. hi. my brother is currently reading his biography. dietcrich’s. (probably misspelled that). he says he finds many parallels between the christians of his day with those in the u.s. today. debbie you are truly a gifted gifted writer and nothing i read of yours just touches my brain. it always touches my heart. i love you. gaye

    1. dear gaye –
      Bonhoeffer’s biography would be a fascinating read. I’ve only read bits and pieces. I’ve read enough to know that the church was sadly quiet in it’s response to the brutalization of the German government under Hitler.
      And that Bonhoeffer was among a handful of church leaders who were outspoken in opposition to the Fuehrer and his policies – which cost him his life in a Nazi concentration camp.
      If anyone could speak against cheap grace, it would be Bonhoeffer.

      Thank you for your words here, and thank you for your friendship that helped me see just how costly grace is and never let me get away with cheapening it.
      I love you, too,
      ~ Debbie

  9. Your writing often leaves me without the words I need to express how much I appreciate your heart. I needed to hear this and be reminded grace may be free to us but not easy. Beautiful, Debbie.

    1. Debby –
      I realize I need to be careful not to blur the lines between free and easy. Thank you for being my constant encourager,

  10. Great words of truth. Grace is anything but free, or cheap. Grace was a planned event from the very beginning of all things. Think about this if you will, in the beginning God made man…He also knew He would have to rescue man, once rescued, He also knew He would have to continue giving man a way out of his sins…grace.

    1. Greg –
      That’s a story that makes me suck in my breath every single time I let it sink in. “And can it be that I should gain an entrance… amazing love, how can it be.”
      That’s just it. Grace.
      ~ Debbie

  11. TOUCHE! Giddy up and all that. You don’t sugar coat. You are so accepting and wise. I am so glad to be in a different space in life … in that space where i don’t need peanut M&M’s to float my boat, rather something for my soul.

    Soul food isn’t cheap, but it is freely given (not in a restaurant of course). I feel badly for the woman or man who isn’t ready for love and grace. There comes a day when all this “love and coziness” will be a welcome gift. Until then, it’s a lonely road. Just my early morning, caffeine-induced thought.

    And, btw, your two minutes are wonderful. You combine your beliefs with life, and i’ve learned a lot about grace.

    HEY, i can take the love!!! Bring it on, baby!! XO mel

    1. dear mel –
      You said it perfectly – “Soul food isn’t cheap, but it’s freely given.” πŸ˜€
      Amen, Sister!
      Sending the love your way,
      ~ Debbie

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