November 7, 2018
Gratitude and Grace: Two Peas in a Pod
If you confess your sins, he [Jesus] is faithful and just and forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9 NIV).
Friend to Friend
When I turned forty, all of a sudden small letters and numbers got smaller. A trip to the ophthalmologist proved that I needed reading glasses. But I had a hard time keeping up with them, so the doctor fitted me with mono-vision contact lenses. In my left eye I wear a contact lens for close up and in my right eye I wear a contact lens for distance. And somehow, my brain figures all that out and I can see perfectly.
That is how I view gratitude and grace. With gratitude in one eye and grace in the other, I can see God more clearly. If there is one thing that should cause gratitude to bubble up and spill out of our hearts, it is God’s grace.
“What do you think keeps us from experiencing union with Jesus?” my friend Bill asked. “I think it is that we still feel shame, even though we have been exonerated by Christ, forgiven by God, and washed clean by the power of the Holy Spirit,” he continued, answering his own question.
And Bill is right. Shame drove Adam and Eve into hiding and it can drive us there as well. And the only way of escape is to accept God’s grace gift and come out into the open. I often find myself crouching in the bushes with Adam and Eve. I hear the footsteps of God approaching the Garden in the cool of the evening, calling out to me with glory all around, but I cower, naked and ashamed…saddened by how I have failed Him throughout the day.
Sin. It will not cease to exist just because I have entered into this love relationship with Jesus. Yes, I have been saved from the penalty of sin, but the power of sin still pulls my heart toward lesser lovers and off I go. It tears a drain hole in my soul through which my joy seeps away as I try to soothe that glory ache on my own – apart from Christ. How I long for the day when I leave this earth for the consummation of this heavenly marriage, to be saved from the presence of sin completely. Until then, I fall away, and Jesus woos me back. Grace.
Two of Satan’s greatest weapons he uses against Christian women today are shame and condemnation. He knows that because of the finished work of Jesus Christ and His work of redemption in your life, you are deeply loved, completely forgiven, thoroughly cleansed, eternally saved, fully pleasing and totally accepted by God. All he can do is try and convince you that isn’t true. He can do nothing to make you unclean. All he can do is to make you feel unclean. And if you believe his lies of shame, then back into the bushes you’ll go. Hiding with Adam and Eve as God walks calling out…“Where are you?”
We all fail God. We all sin. We all fall short of the glory of God, what He intended us to do and be in the Garden. But here’s God’s promise: “If you confess your sins, he (Jesus) is faithful and just and forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 2:9 NIV).
What do you do when you fail God? If you’re like me, after I have repented and asked forgiveness, my natural tendency is to tell God that I’ll try harder next time. Try harder. Is that really the solution? Do I really need to suck it up and try harder? I wonder if that is what Jesus would say.
On the contrary, Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching” (John 14:23). Any one who loves me…will obey my teaching. Perhaps the solution to our tendency to disobey God is not trying harder, but loving more. Perhaps an intimate relationship of union with Jesus, one in which we live and move and have our being in Him in every aspect of life is key to obedience. When we love deeply, we are more likely to cling to Him closely.
Jesus has a wonderful way of restoring us when we fail Him. He doesn’t humiliate, berate, or criticize us. Rather He takes us aside and asks us to reaffirm our love for Him.
“Peter, do you love me?” Jesus asked three times.
“Yes, Lord, you know I do,” (John 21:15-17).
No more questions.
It’s hard for us to understand. Sometimes grace just doesn’t make sense.
Lord, thank You for the grace You have shown me all throughout my life. I don’t deserve it, but I guess that’s what makes it grace…a gift I don’t deserve. I pray I will never loose sight of grace or take it for granted. And Lord, help me to offer that same grace to others who cross my path today.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Read these two passages and put yourself in Peter’s place.
Matthew 26:69-74 and John 21:15-17
How are the words that Jesus spoke to Peter the very words that He is saying to you today?
More from the Girlfriends
Do you long for something more in your relationship with God? Do you have a “glory ache” – a hunger to experience God’s presence on a daily basis? The good news is that God wants that even more than you do. Right smack dab in the spin of the laundry and the sizzle of the bacon – as you live and move and have your being in Him. This summer, take some time to “be still and know”—to hear His still small voice – to dust for His fingerprints on the pages of your everyday life. My book, A Sudden Glory: God’s Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More will show you how. It also includes a study guide and free online Bible study videos.