The quote of the month has to be, “You never know what you have until it’s gone. Toilet paper for instance.” I’ve seen this pop up multiple times across social media the past few weeks.
The empty shelves in the store and the concerns about hoarding lately reminded me of a special gift my grandpa gave me several years ago. Knowing my interest in World War II history, he passed on to me ration books that his family had used during that war.
If you’re not familiar with ration books, during World War II, the federal government started a nationwide program of food rationing to help avoid hoarding and try to make sure limited resources were distributed fairly.
During World War II, things like sugar, coffee, meats, canned goods, and other items were all rationed. In order to purchase rationed items, families would have to not only pay the cost of that item, but they also needed the required type and number of stamps to be able to purchase that item. It was a way to manage limited resources and make sure needed supplies were getting to the guys on the front lines.
As upset as we get when we think about people hoarding food, toilet paper, or anything else during critical times, we Christians have a tendency to hoard something important ourselves. Christians often live and act like God is a God of limited resources, especially when it comes to his grace. We regularly hoard his grace for ourselves. We seek it over and over and over again for our sin and our failures. But when it comes time to share grace with other people in our lives, we hesitate. We expect God to be quick to forgive us, yet we struggle with forgiving others. We’re often not good at sharing with others what Christ has shared with us.
But the good news is God’s supply of grace isn’t limited. Unlike toilet paper at Walmart, God’s grace isn’t going to run out. We don’t need a ration book for God’s grace. And we also don’t have to hoard it for ourselves. Instead, he calls us to freely give it away.
Ephesians 1:7-8 talks about the riches of God’s grace. It says, “In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he has lavished upon us.”
Lavish means to give something in exceedingly generous or extravagant quantities. That’s how God shares his grace with us in forgiving our sin. He doesn’t apportion it out in limited quantities to make sure there’s enough to go around. No. Because he is rich in grace, he gives it away generously and extravagantly.
Since God has so extravagantly poured his grace on us, we can pass his grace onto others. Ephesians 4:32 makes this connection for us. It says, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
The lavish grace God has shown us in Christ should move us to lavishly share that grace with others. There’s no need to ration.