But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgement followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ …
But where sin increased, grace increased all the more. (verse 15-17, 20)
I have a somewhat corny illustration to start my reflections today. Way back when, I spent my college years cooking for 400 plus campers and staff at a summer camp up the coast of British Columbia. It was an amazing challenge, plus incredibly great fun. One of my favourite meals was spaghetti. I remember stirring the vast cauldron of sauce with an implement that was something like a canoe paddle – feeding 400 people took vast quantities of the stuff! Unfortunately, my perspective has been entirely warped ever since. Now, when I try to scale down the amounts for my own family, I never seem to get it quite right – there’s always a massive amount of sauce and noodle left over. I dare say that no one’s appetite (not even that of my ravenous sons!) can outmatch the dimensions of my spaghetti provision.
Keep that image in mind. Having been forcibly shocked by Paul with the deeply ingrained reality of our own sin, he now tells us about the grace of God that meets us in our need. That grace far outmatches our sin. My over-abundance of spaghetti sauce is but a pale inkling of the magnitude of the gift of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The superabundance of grace is indicated by a word that Paul uses in three different forms in these few verses. The root word itself is a superlative that means “abundance that is overflowing” or “superfluous” or “exceeding a fixed measure” or “over and above and beyond.”
He uses this word in verse 15 when, in contrast to sin, he says how much more did the grace of Jesus “overflow to the many.” An overflow like that indicates a vast quantity. Paul uses the same root word again in verse 17 when he speaks about “God’s abundant provision of grace.” Again, can you picture the lavish, excessiveness of that grace? But, not content with these descriptions, Paul increases the wattage in verse 20 when he says that “grace increased all the more.” He takes the word he’s already been using and adds the prefix “hyper.” We have a sense of what that prefix means from English words that use it – hyperactive, hypersensitive, hypertension. It means over and above. And since the root word itself already meant “excessive and abundant,” this is way over the top, above and beyond!
Such is the grace of our God in our Lord Jesus Christ. More than able to outmatch our sin. More than able to save us to the uttermost.
Excess spaghetti sauce simply gets refrigerated for another day. Superabundant grace sustains us for all eternity.
Praise your name, O Lord, for the lavish provision of your grace – above and beyond and over the top, excessively meeting the vastness of my own need. Thank you for your gift. Thank you for your grace that overflows. Thank you, Lord Jesus, that your righteousness covers the debt of my sin, outmatching its power, setting me free. Thank you.
Reflect: Dare to contemplate the depth of your own sin. Then meditate on the lavish overflow of Christ’s provision. His grace covers it all – excessively, abundantly, over the top. Receive. Give thanks.