Did you have an opportunity to share your story last week? If not, I’m sure an occasion will be presented soon. I love the way last weeks verse, Matthew 28: 19-20, compliments Ephesians 2:8-10(if this is your first time joining us click here to read more). Both of these scriptures direct the focus in our life to Christ working in us for the purposes of God’s kingdom. How does your story boast of God’s handiwork?
Sometimes that is an easy question to answer and other times it is difficult depending on the season of life we are in. When our answer doesn’t come easy we should take time to reflect on how the Lord has worked in our lives in the past. A purposeful pause might be just what we need right now as we are on the edge of entering the second half of 2017.
A good place to start might be with asking ourselves how has God’s free gift of grace impacted our lives? Our answer to this question will reveal if we are accepting His grace freely and are living according to what He has created us, in Christ Jesus, to do. An honest reflection requires us to start by defining God’s grace according to His standards. Why? Because, it tends to get muddled up when we try to define it within human parameters. What do I mean by muddled up?
Well, we tend to want to continuously tie an “if– then” condition to grace. For example, in my Sunday School Class, an illustration of restaurant tipping is often used to differentiate between God’s grace and an individual’s grace standard. God’s grace standard is given freely without connection to if the individual deserves His grace. God graciously provided salvation for us before we did anything to deserve it. We receive God’s grace through faith, of any size, by accepting His offer and trusting His ability to freely gift us eternal salvation.
The tipping illustration places us in a service providing restaurant. The person serving our table has a level of faith that their customer will provide a “monetary tip” for services rendered to the best of their ability. What should our standard for tipping our server be? As a paying customer we have been conditioned to measure the service provided by various personal standards. How often are we trapped by our engrained service standards and “tip” based more on what they deserve rather than freely tipping with grace to bless our server? From the conversations in my class I can tell you grace tipping is more of an acceptation rather than the standard. This topic is met by some of the following comments: “If I get bad service how is the person ever going to know they are terrible?” or “I only give what they deserve, I shouldn’t have to tip, it’s the owners job to pay their staff.” This is meant only as an example— please don’t feel judged if your not a grace tipper.
I hope you didn’t get lost in this illustration. The point I hope we will all take away is—- grace is given without consideration of merit and in many cases extended when by all measure when not deserved. God’s free grace is absent of any “if or then” calculations. But, if we are focused on living life still trying to “deserve or earn” God’s grace. Then, our understanding could be compared to believing that God is more like the paying customer who gives grace based on what we have done or are doing. Does this belief align with scripture? According to Ephesians 2:8-10 the answer is, no. Paul states very clearly that we are saved by grace through our faith in God NOT by anything we do beyond freely receiveing it all, because even our faith comes from God.
If our very faith, is the basis of receiving grace, comes from the Lord what is our role? I propose that it is to act on the faith we are given through belief in Christ and to obey his commands. Jesus gave us our first step when he revealed the greatest commands of the Lord in Matthew 22:36 -40— first, to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind and second to love your neighbor like you love yourself. When we obey these commands(John 14: 23 -24) it leads us into deep relationship with the Lord, increases our faith, and pours out into our love for him, ourselves, and our neighbors. When we embrace the faith He has given to us we are able to live out His commands in love through His free grace.
Personally the concept of free grace was not one that I embraced immediately when I first believed Jesus is my Savior. I spent many years believing that I had to earn God’s grace. As I held onto this belief I felt like I couldn’t measure up or do enough for God and others. My feelings of inadequacy became the substance of the walls that I built. Barriers that separated me from experiencing God’s free grace and who He wanted to be in my life. I blocked His love because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. I couldn’t forgive myself, so I questioned how or why the God of the universe would forgive me, love me, or even listen to me? It breaks my heart to think of all the time I wasted behind a wall of unbelief, fear, and insecurity. Maybe you can relate to the walls I built in my life or maybe you have other walls built to keep God at a distance. If you do and are still struggling with this belief my prayer is that you will chose to believe in His unconditional love for you, as His child. That you will act on the mustard seed of faith He has given you to receive His free gift of grace today. It is as simple as us telling Him we believe in Jesus His Son and we receive His gift of grace— the key that brings us freedom from our sin. After that we are free to continue to act on our faith and seek His help to obey His commands. Now, let the boasting begin— of how God’s grace has invaded our life and caused us to live as the handiwork God created us to be in Christ!
Does boasting always mean through words? Let’s consider how we can boast of God’s grace by extending grace to others through forgiveness, unconditional love, kindness, and maybe even some grace tipping.
How will you express the free grace you have been given this week?
Who needs to hear your story of grace and freedom?
Join the conversation I would love to hear your ideas!
**If you find your mind wondering back to the question of our source of faith being God himself? I encourage you to answer your questions. Here are some digging deeper scriptures for personal study. (Acts 3:16, Acts 15:9-11, Acts 26:18, Romans 1:17, Romans 4: 1-8, Romans 4:16-17, Romans 5:1-2, James 2:21-22) **
Be Alert~ Stay Strong~ Pray Always
Welcome if you are joining me for the first time. This post is part of my weekly series “Wisdom Wellspring”. Take a moment to visit the page to learn about the heart behind the series and view previous posts.
Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”