There are three basic principles that govern the operation of God’s grace. First, grace can never be earned; conversely, anything that can be earned is not grace:
And if by grace, then it is no longer of works [what we earn]; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. (Romans 11:6)
This principle excludes most “religious” people from the grace of God, because they think they can earn it.
Second, there is only one channel of grace. “For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Any form of grace that comes to us comes solely through Jesus Christ.
Third, there is only one means by which we can appropriate God’s grace, and that is faith. This truth is summed up in three successive phrases in Ephesians 2:8–9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith,…not of works [what we earn].”
Few Christians realize that this principle applies just as much in the realm of financial and material provision as it does in any other area of our lives. Scripture warns us specifically against irresponsibility (Proverbs 10:4), laziness (Proverbs 24:30–34), and dishonesty (Ephesians 4:28). As long as we are guilty of any of these sinful behaviors, we have no right to expect God’s grace to work in the financial aspect of our lives. Therefore, as Christians, we are obligated to be honest, hardworking, and responsible.