Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And Jesus replied, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Luke 23:42-43
Devotional writer Henry Drummond tells the story of two saints who argued about which of them was the “greatest monument of God’s saving grace.” The first man told of his wicked life of drugs, lies, and vicious behavior. God saved him on his deathbed. The second man was brought to Christ when he was a young boy. He’d led a quiet Christian life. He loved his wife and went to church regularly. He had anticipated going to heaven for a long time.
Who benefitted more from God’s grace? Most would vote for the first saint, the lifetime sinner. But, no! The man who lived a long Christian life was granted the largest portion of God’s special merit. God’s grace saved him from reckless sins in his early years, steered him clear of the sins of adult life, and kept his feet on the right road as he grew old. This lifetime of God’s favor was the greater portion of grace.
It took a truckload of grace to pluck the first man out of sin and into heaven. Just like the thief on the cross next to Jesus (see Luke 23:42-43), the first man was given saving grace and was freed from the guilt of his sin. The second man in the story was given restraining grace. The thief on the cross and the first saint were given dying grace; the second received living grace.
So it is with us. Without God’s many graces on a daily basis, our lives resemble cars whose wheels need alignment. If we take God’s hands off the steering wheel of our lives, our uneven tires run us into life’s ditch every time. We rightly celebrate God’s saving grace. It is a gift beyond measure. But never forget to appreciate and thank Him everyday for His living and restraining grace!