I know it has been a while since I've posted a blog ... sorry about that! For the last few weeks we have been talking about GRACE at Live Oak, specifically "The Story of Grace." As I'm sitting here typing today I'm thinking about my own struggles with grace - in receiving and giving it to others - and thought I'd share a few "barriers to grace."
BARRIERS TO RECEIVING GRACE:
- We try to EARN it.Grace, by definition, is "unmerited favor." How can you earn something that is unmerited? You can't, and you never will be able to. If you have to earn grace, it is no longer grace, it is something else.
- We try to JUSTIFY it.Hand in hand with trying to earn grace is trying to prove that you deserve it. You don't. I don't. That's the power and beauty of grace. God grants us grace for no reason other than He wants to. You can't justify it, you can only accept it, or deny it.
- We try to UNDERSTAND it.Have you ever tried to explain why the sky is blue to a 2 year old? After you tell them, "that's just the color God picked when He made it," they usually say, "ok!" The fact that blue was God's choice is enough for them. Well, maybe we need to be more like a 2 year old when it comes to asking why God gives us His grace - because he chose to.
BARRIERS TO GIVING GRACE:
- We want to JUDGE.It's so much easier to condemn someone for their actions, especially when those actions are against you. Ascribing guilt is always much easier than awarding grace. And if we're honest, pronouncing a "guilty" verdict makes us feel better about ourselves.
- We want to PROJECT. I don't like the word, but here's the idea: I know I'm guilty for my "junk," so they should feel guilty for their "junk" too. Because I don't deserve grace, and I don't feel worthy of it, and I'm not able to accept it ... and because I'm certainly a better person than you are ... I'm going to withhold my grace from you.
- We want to GIVE THEM WHAT THEY DESERVE! The truth is, we like vengeance better than grace ... when it comes to other! Deep down we want people to get what's coming to them because that's FAIR. But grace isn't fair. There is nothing about grace that's fair. If we got what we deserved, if we got what's "fair," we would be begging for grace.
Herein lies the profound power and truth about grace:
"Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It's God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we'd done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing." - Ephesians 2:8-10 (The Message)
I'm grateful for God "making and saving" me. I'm grateful for God's grace. And I pray that because of His grace in my life I am a grace-giver to others.