Grace. Oh, what a beautiful, jaw-dropping concept ~ unearned, undeserved mercy and love and forgiveness and kindness. Oh, what little of it we seem to offer one another these days. But the person I find the hardest to show grace to? Myself.
I would much rather it be YOU who makes a mistake. You are forgivable. But when I make one? Oh dear. The world is over. I should just lie down and die now. I should have done better than that. And then I beat myself up. Over and over and over again. Guilt and shame wash over me. I am worthless.
But wait a minute. Where does THAT come from? God does not shame us or consider us worthless. The Holy Spirit points us to our need for Jesus, yes, but once we believe in Him, by grace through faith we are forgiven, and our sin is forgotten. He does not bring up the past mistakes we have made or point out what a miserable creature we are. He is a God of second, and third, and infinity, chances. He is a God of grace.
“The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, So the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.” ~ Psalm 103:8-14
No, the guilt, the shame, the despair come straight from the pits of hell. That is Satan’s department, his specialty. He is thrilled to pieces when I mentally beat myself up. In fact, Satan’s goal is to keep me in that little “hell-hole”. When I am despondent and feeling worthless, then I am not able to serve God or others. I am focused only on myself. Me, me, me. Poor, stupid me. Just ask my husband. I am NO fun to be around.
Thankfully, God gently shows me when I am in those little “hell-hole” places and nudges me to His word, and to my knees, where I cry out to Him, asking Him to forgive me, bind back Satan, and help me climb the ladder out of the dark hole and be of use to Him again.
Help me, Lord, to give myself grace. And to accept Your grace ~ Your mercy, love, forgiveness, and kindness. I certainly have not earned nor deserve it. But I am thankful You freely give it. And I NEED it!
Really, it is my pride that takes a hit. And we all know pride is dangerous. I want to be better than that. I want to be perfect. Or at least not mess up like others do. Oh my goodness, did I really just think that? Is that what my heart thinks, that I should be better than others? Oh, have I been humbled! Lord, purge that from within me.
But back to grace. Always grace! Thanks be to God!
“But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.” ~ Romans 5:15
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:10
“But as you abound in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us–see that you abound in this grace also.” ~ 2 Corinthians 8:7
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” ~ 2 Corinthians 9:8
“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
When I am weak, then I am strong. When I admit I am weak and imperfect, then I admit I need God’s grace and can freely accept it, walk in it, and offer it to others, through Jesus, with His strength and power.
The apostle Paul references grace in the introduction to each one of his letters. Every. Single. One. Grace. And peace. (With 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, he slips mercy between the two.)
Here is an important lesson (especially for ME!): Grace comes before peace. You cannot experience true peace until you have received grace. Period. Grace, then peace.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth–in Him.” ~ Ephesians 1:2-10
I read through the little book of Titus this morning. Grace abounds in it!
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works…
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” ~ Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7
May you have a day filled with grace and peace!