Grace. That’s what we’re going to talk about today. We’ve all heard of it, and if you’re a believer in Jesus, then you have accepted His grace over your life. Or rather, we should.
I wonder sometimes how much we have truly accepted His grace, His forgiveness, that covering that rescues us from death, while simultaneously giving us new life. That’s the kicker, you know. New life! His Kingdom, His will. On earth as it is in Heaven.
As I continue on my journey on earth, drawing closer to Christ, my “work in progress” as I call it, I continue to pick up knowledge and maturity for my walk. I’m discovering how I can live a new life, with a kingdom view, where I try and carry the fruits of His Spirit as I abide in Him.
Wow, that sounds like a lot. So, let’s try and make it simple. Dumb it down, if you will. I’ve always been a fan of the For Dummies books. Maybe we could call this Grace for Dummies, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. I’ll admit I’m the biggest Dummy when it comes to matters of infinite importance, but hopefully by humbling myself to the fact that I don’t know it all, I can grow a bit smarter, if you will, every day.
I started my journey by reading the Bible every day, and in following the teachings of Jesus, and the wisdom of New Testament authors, along with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, I have started to see some things more clearly. Like, grace, for example.
Grace is given freely. It’s a gift to the undeserving (us), and it’s not because of anything we’ve done, so no one can boast about earning it (Ephesians 2: 8-9).
How can you tell you’ve accepted a gift? Like, truly accepted it? I don’t mean like when a coworker gives you something at a work party you’ll never use, but you thank them kindly, and later put it in a box in your closet to forget about. I’m talking about the kind of gift that changes your life.
Y’all, we recently bought large, long shelves for our garage, and they are awesome. They allowed me to organize all the Christmas decor I bought, that I really didn’t need, and I was able to look at my newly neat garage without my left eye twitching. I could easily say those shelves are life-changing. At least in the world of my little garage. So, when I talk about grace, and how it changes you, I’m referring to what the recognition of grace in your life does to transform how you see others.
Accepting the gift of grace should change you.
It changes how you see yourself (hopefully, forgiven and worthy), how you see others (also worthy of the Father’s love), and how you see the world (as a temporal venue, with eternal souls walking around in need).
Think on that for a bit.
When someone hurts you, do you harbor a grudge? Hey, I get it! When someone hurts me or makes me mad, I stew about it for a while. But what I try to do is extend grace. It’s a daily thing, but when I find myself reliving my anger towards someone (and thereby giving it power to negatively affect me), I am quick to remember His great grace. I surrender my anger and offense to Jesus, and I remember the mistakes and sins He has died for on my behalf; then I extend grace.
Freely given. And now may we freely receive.
I look around at the world and the reactions of the humans around me. I wonder, do some react in rage and vitriol because they haven’t truly accepted grace for themselves? You can’t give what you don’t have, right?
How many of us say we believe in forgiveness of our sins, yet on a deeper level see ourselves unworthy of entering His presence with peace and joy? Maybe we think we’re not holy enough, that our prayers can’t go high enough, or we’re withheld the blessing of God because of our actions. In that case, we’re living by the law, and the fact we can never adhere to it fully. We will never achieve that level of righteousness on our own.
Through Jesus, we can, though. We can be perfect because He is perfect. That’s a hard concept to grasp. It’s not that we’re claiming perfection on our own merit, but rather through walking and abiding in His perfect presence and great grace. We become one with Him. Imagine if you held two fingers together and they fused into one piece of flesh. He in us, us in Him, together with the Father in Heaven. Yes, I know, this is cosmic stuff, but it’s also Biblical. Through Him and in Him we have our being, our new life, and the fruits of our life should reflect that.
We forgive because we are forgiven.
We are supposed to be the salt of the earth, but we have lost our saltiness when we give off a sour taste by our actions of anger, malice, and judgement. When we walk in peace, love, gentleness, and meekness, we are exercising grace.
We have one enemy, the evil one, and towards one another (regardless of political leaning, skin color, nationality, or status) we should be walking as one who has accepted grace. We have been freely given His grace, and now we should model that grace to others, thereby showing the light of His love.
So, today’s homework is this. Ask yourself, “am I forgiven?” Believe that you are. Think of the worst thing you’ve ever done. Accept that great grace covers that. Then, approach every person and situation with that in the back of your mind. Humble yourself. Remember that pointing out the shortcomings of someone else doesn’t make your own sin disappear. Only His bloody grace does that. And only His grace can do it for others! But the application of that grace begins with us. We are coworkers with Christ, given authority here on earth to lead the lost to the shepherd. We will never lead them by condemnation, but we will point them to forgiveness by grace through our love. But without it, we are just a clanging symbol.