Costly grace | 500 Words on Grace

by You Have My Word

Grace is a free, costly gift.

In the midst of celebrating ‘unmerited favour’ and all those other amazing things grace is, I would venture to say that we have forgotten how much grace costs.

But you say, “You’ve got this wrong, Bruce, grace is free.” Maybe it’s just semantics, but for me, grace might bring freedom but it’s not free.

We all know the truth and brutality of the cross. Especially, we struggle to imagine the pain Jesus felt when Father God turned his face away. Forsaken because of our sin. That is costly grace.

And herein lies the paradox of the free, costly gift.

The clichéd illustration of a gift given but left unopened is maybe appropriate here. Unwrapping a gift signifies acceptance of the contents. Grace unwrapped is for the taking. Jesus offers it freely. However, it has cost him much and – I suspect – it costs us much too.

Bear with me here; let me explain.

Jesus makes it very clear that our wholeness and healing is his agenda: He came for the sick, not the healthy; for sinners, not the righteous. Grace is where it all – healing and becoming whole – begins. When we unwrap the gift of grace, freedom beckons. At the moment we accept Jesus’ costly sacrifice, in God’s eyes, we are pure and acceptable to him. That is the beauty of grace. But grace doesn’t end there. Grace urges us to see who we really are. It forces us to acknowledge that we are nowhere near the perfection Jesus has made possible.

This is where grace becomes costly for us.

The gift of grace costs us ourselves. When we understand the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice: that his stripes heal us; that his unconditional love saves us; that his blood poured out redeems us, we can only respond by losing ourselves. Grace pushes us off the cliff’s edge of our own control into the great unknown of surrender. And, surrender is hard. I no longer am the master of my own destiny, the king of my own castle and the builder of my own empire. Surrender is painful. Like the branches of the vine, I am shaped and pruned. The things that hold me back from fullness of life are excised and discarded; burnt on the flames.

But, surrender is also beautiful.

I’ll illustrate with a story. On a youth camp, six or so years ago, I remember a group of us being called to pray for a demon possessed young girl. I remember looking into her eyes and coming face to face with evil. I remember her low, guttural growl and the sweat on her brow. I remember how ugly she looked. I remember our fervent prayer, her release, and ultimate redemption as she – with a still, small voice – answered Jesus’ still, small voice, calling her to be his own. And in that moment, her faint smile and sparkling eyes reflected the beauty of surrender: the fullness of life that comes with unwrapping the gift of grace.

For us, the beautiful surrender might be less eventful but it will never be less significant. We will all truly understand what an amazing gift grace is as we – in daily surrender – grow more into the people Jesus desires us to be.


This guy is kool. Bruce Collins closes 500 Words on Grace today. Incredible, steadfast man of God, gracious father to three beautiful girls, husband, brother, creative, barista, uncle (to me), writer, friend and so much more. I am grateful for his words today but also his ongoing influence in my life. Check out his blog brews here, or his The Girls VS The Man blog here. Follow him here, and get him on Facebook here.