It’s not a word we use much anymore—lavish. Its definition, according to Merriam-Webster, is “to expend or bestow with profusion.” Depending on one’s point of view, it can also have the sense of squandering what one has, such as money.
I’m thinking of that word today because I came across it in my morning reading time in Ephesians 1:7-10:
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insightmaking known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
What caught my attention is God lavished on us the riches of his grace with all wisdom and insight. In other words, he knew exactly what he was doing and for whom he was doing it. Think about that for a minute.
Paul sums up this thought in another letter where he says, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Still sinners. Still rebelling against him. Still doing what we want to do. Still living for ourselves. Still arrogant. Yet, in the midst of our rebellion and disobedience, he made the riches of his grace available to us, not in a skimpy way, but rather, lavishly. Knowing exactly who we are and what we’ve done, he was still willing to “squander” them on us.
I think of the attitude of Judas when Mary anointed Jesus with expensive ointment. He chastised her by saying, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” (John 12:5) His attitude reflects a common view: expensive, valuable things should not be squandered. A Michelin-rated chef cooking for someone without a distinguishing palate would be a waste. A concert pianist performing for an audience of kindergartners would be squandering both time and talent. A billionaire handing out money on the street to total strangers would be an ill-advised use of his/her wealth.
Yet, this is what God did for us. He lavished on us out of sheer love that which he could not guarantee we would appreciate. And he did it with full knowledge and wisdom.
This is very difficult for me to grasp. I know myself, what I was and still what I am. How is it that I deserve such lavishness of love and grace? Wait a minute. I don’t deserve it. That’s what makes God’s gift so lavish!
With what I do grasp, it leads me toward such gratefulness, such thankfulness to be the recipient of so much love. The question I have to ask myself often: Is this reflected in how I live my life, in how I treat others, and in how I treat myself? It is not a coincidence that the Scriptures often command us to remember. To forget is a basic trait of fallen humanity—truths, lessons, and promises. We may know the Lord’s love for us, but we often forget the truths, lessons, and promises contained within that love, and we often forget to live them out.
Today, I am thankful to be reminded of God’s love for me, and how lavish it truly is. He doesn’t waste anything, so that means I am worth it. The challenge of my life continues to be to embrace that truth and to live accordingly.
© Jim Musser 2020 All Scripture references from the English Standard Version.