“to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:6, NASB95)
Without context this verse does not mean much, but let’s back up and look at what immediately preceded it. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:3–6, NASB95)
Our being blessed with every spiritual blessing as children adopted by God is something for which we praise His name out of our great gratitude. Recognizing that we did nothing to deserve this, but that we received it only because of His loving kindness toward us, it is perfectly right and fitting for us to sing His praise and glorify His name. God gets all of the credit, and for us to loudly proclaim this not only blessing His name, but it lets everyone else know how much we appreciate what He has done on our behalf. Out of the kindness of His will He acted graciously toward us, and He has given us every spiritual blessing freely in His Son—the Beloved.
As Paul writes this we see repeatedly how God showing His love toward us in giving us so much is to result in our returning to Him our admiration and praise. Because He first loved us, we read, we love in response (1 John 4:19). When I took a break from working on this post to edit some typos in the last one and repost it, I saw on Facebook that someone had posted an interview with Kris Kristofferson about the story behind his song, “Why Me.” I took a few minutes to watch the video and listen to what Kris had to say to Bill Gaither about what happened that day. Then I listened as the song was sung. I could not help but relate those words back to this passage that I was working through. At the same time I thought how ironic is was who he was singing the song with and how that other person has shown himself in public. Even in the irony as I was tempted to judge I was reminded that it is by grace that we are saved through faith and that not of ourselves, lest any of us should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
The song begins, “Why me Lord what have I ever done to deserve even one of the pleasures I've known?
Tell me, Lord, what did I ever do that was worth lovin' you or the kindness you've shown? Lord help me, Jesus, I've wasted it so help me Jesus I know what I am. But now that I know that I've needed you so help me, Jesus, my soul's in your hand”
This is what Paul was writing about. There was absolutely nothing that we could have done to deserve even one of the pleasures we’ve known. We did not deserve His grace and we definitely do not deserve any blessings from Him. As with most who come to know Christ, especially as an adult it is easy to see what we have done that has been so wasteful and even opposed to God. But even after knowing Him we still have those times where we have to stop again and be incredibly thankful that He has been so incredibly kind to us. As we see who we are and how we have transgressed His perfect standard it is easy to see how needful we truly are. Knowing that He loved us this way and has extended Himself to us through His Son our response then is to live in the same way—in Christ with our souls in His hand being daily transformed into His image.
I do not know a lot about Kris Kristofferson’s life and how closely he has followed after Christ, and I am not holding him up as any example. But who I am holding up is our God who has the power to transform lives and who saves us who didn’t and don’t deserve anything from Him. Then as Kris’s song went on, he began to focus on what He could do to repay what God had done. I would vary with him there, because I realize that the great length to which God went in His Son is something which I could never repay, but only respond with extreme gratitude and faithful service. My giving back to Him then becomes not a balancing of any celestial books, but a loving response to God who so dearly loves me, lest anyone (including myself) be tempted to say that God made a good or bad choice in me or anyone else (Romans 12:1).
“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13, NASB95)
“…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:12–14, NASB95)