When I lost my footing as a boy in the undertow at the beach, I felt as if I were going to be dragged to the middle of the ocean in an instant.
It was a terrifying thing. I tried to get my bearings and figure out which way was up. But I couldn’t get my feet on the ground and the current was too strong to swim.
In my panic I thought of only one thing: Could someone help me? But I couldn’t even call out from under the water.
When I felt my friend’s hand take hold of my upper arm like a mighty vice grip, it was the sweetest feeling in the world. I yielded entirely to being overpowered by his strength. I reveled in being lifted up at his will. I did not resist.
The thought did not enter my mind that I should try to show that things aren’t so bad; or that I should add my strength to my friend’s. All I thought was, Yes! I need you! I thank you! I love your strength! I love your initiative! I love your grip! You are great!
In that spirit of yielded affection, one cannot boast. I call that yielded affection “faith.” And my friend was the embodiment of the future grace that I craved under the water. This is the faith that magnifies grace.
As we ponder how to live the Christian life, the highest aim should be: How can I magnify rather than nullify the grace of God? Paul answers this question in Galatians 2:20–21, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God.”
Why does his life not nullify the grace of God? Because he lives by faith in the Son of God. Faith calls all attention to grace and magnifies it, rather than nullifying it.