There is an old phrase that has been repeated often, but for the grace of God, there go I. One tradition attributes the quote to a Martyr, John Bradford who when he saw a group of prisoners being led to their execution would say, “there, but for the grace of God, goes John Bradford.” His point was that any good, either in our character or our circumstances can be traced back to God’s gracious hand upon our lives. The distinction between those who experience God’s blessings and those who experience His wrath can be found in their relationship to Him and Him alone.
The difference between the people in Canaan who experience God’s wrath at the hand of Israel and the Israelites themselves is God’s grace. This distinction is made clear from the very beginning of the battles for the promised land. Rahab, though she was not part of Israel, received grace from God by faith. Achan, though he was born into Israel, received God’s wrath because he did not trust God’s grace. Here in our text for today the king of Ai met the same fate as Achan, (Joshua 8:29). Trust in the Lord’s grace is the distinguishing mark of those who receive His blessings. God wanted Israel to know from the very start that the only hope they had of continuing to receive His blessings was His grace.
This is the same hope Paul talks about in 1 Cor 15:8-11. He knew that the only difference between who he used to be and who he was an Apostle was God’s grace. This knowledge did not lead him to sit back and do nothing but to work with everything he had to serve the God who gave him such grace.
The same is true in our lives today. God’s amazing grace through the Gospel of Jesus calls you to real life transformation for the better. He calls you to stop trusting in your own plans for your life and instead put your faith in His purpose and plan.