As we have been studying Galatians in worship at church, I have been really wrestling with the
question of living by grace. As a Christian I am very familiar with being saved by grace. The question I often have, though, is, “Do I live by grace?”
Paul says, “By grace you have been saved through faith. And that not of yourselves. It is the gift of God. Not of works lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
I am saved by grace. But Paul confronts the Galatians church in Galatians 3 with these words: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 1:3) So, there is more to learn here. It isn’t just the beginning of my relationship with God that needs grace. It is my whole relationship with Him that must be based upon grace.
Why is this? It is because of what living by grace protects us from. Consider the following…
1. Living by grace protects me from the temptation to boast about how far I’ve come. It is so easy for us to forget that it is by His power and His working in us that we grow and change. Living by rules props us up on the legs of false success. We think about how much we’ve done instead of how much He is always doing. We get the glory and we sound foolish. Living by grace prevents that.
2. Living by grace protects me from creating artificial rules of conduct that I can then manipulate to make myself feel superior to others. We like rules because we can manipulate them. God consistently invites us to “come up higher.” Think about the 10 commandments. Even they can be manipulated. Jesus met a man who had done just that. The man claimed that he kept the commandments. So, Jesus told him that he just needed to do one thing to get eternal life: sell all that he had and follow Jesus! You would think that a man who had followed the 10 commandments would be ready to follow the Messiah anywhere. He wasn’t. The commandments didn’t get him ready for God’s call. He went away sad because he had much wealth. Following the rules doesn’t guarantee a changed heart!
3. Living by grace protects me from self-condemnation when I struggle or fail. The name ‘Satan’ means accuser or opposer. We see over and over in the Scripture Satan doing just that. He accused Job of being God’s “fair weather” follower. Jesus warned Peter that Satan wanted to “sift him like wheat.” Peter says that Satan “prowls like a ravenous lion seeking someone he can devour.” So, why would we be surprised that Satan would use our failures to make us think that God can’t possibly love or use us when we fail? And he doesn’t have to work very hard to do so because we are willing tools in the accusation. Living by grace reminds us that God isn’t keeping score. He just wants to redeem us. He longs for the prodigal to start again.
4. Living by grace puts the focus and glory right where it should be – on the God who loves me more than I deserve! Living by the law makes the focus on what I do or don’t do. That isn’t where the focus is supposed to be. Grace puts it back on God. Following Him becomes about knowing the One who loved me and gave Himself for me. I want to know Him because of how He acts toward me. What a place to be!
Are you living by grace? Don’t settle for less. Live with Jesus by grace. That relationship is worth throwing yourself into!
Something to think about,
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