Romans 5:20-21 (the message)
…But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. All sin can do is threaten us with death, and that’s the end of it. Grace, because God is putting everything together again through the Messiah, invites us to life–a life that goes on and on and on, world without end.
Sometimes as I read my bible in the mornings I feel a tug on my heart to write as God speaks through His word. Because I truly want to be real and let this be about Jesus I try not to post here just for the sake of doing it. Since I wrote yesterday I didn’t really intend to write today. And normally when I do write the last thing I do is give the post a title. Today, as I finished reading the 5th chapter of Romans I sensed that still, small voice say “Let Grace Win.” I knew that was the title for this post…
Grace is a word we hear all our lives, especially in church-world. Almost everyone, church-world or not, knows the first line to the song Amazing Grace: “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me…” As I drove my daughter to school this morning I was thinking what are the “sounds” of grace? Can we look into our lives and hear the sounds of grace? What does it sound like? What does “aggressive forgiveness” look like?
For me, as I sit watching the rain and pondering this idea, I think grace sounds like a weary soul’s sigh of relief. The point in your life where you finally look at who you are and acknowledge your sin, limits, inadequacies and failures. When you fear the cool hand of judgement but instead are wrapped in a warm and cozy blanket of unconditional love. It’s a bone-deep sigh of relief as you settle into His acceptance. It’s the release of pressure to: conform, fit in, excel, meet a standard, change others, change yourself, make others pay, work for forgiveness and prove your worth. We do not live in a culture of grace. Honestly, most of us that grew up in church did not live in a culture of true grace. We heard about it. We sang about it. We still talk about it. But here is the litmus test for knowing if we are living in grace: Do we give grace?
Grace has been a working theme in my spiritual life for months now. So, this post isn’t written by someone who is mature in the sounds of grace…it’s written by a woman experiencing God’s grace in increasing ways and realizing it is His purpose for me to then extend this same “aggressive forgiveness” to others. Here was the clincher for me and I will venture to say for most of us…we secretly sneer at true grace because it looks like letting an offender “off the hook.” It seems simply ridiculous, really. If you choose bad behavior you choose what comes with it, right? Isn’t that what we teach our children? Isn’t that what law and order is all about? We certainly have to walk out the consequences of our choices and so do others. When God forgives us He doesn’t take a magic eraser and we no longer have to deal with the effects and results of our choices/behaviors. But God’s heart is always loving toward us and His plan, even in walking out consequences, is for our redemption. Redeeming our circumstances, our relationships, our purpose. He does not send us off to “suffer the consequences” as punishment and leave us a discarded mess. His heart is always for healing and relationship with us. Grace is the thread He mends our lives with.
Before I can even contemplate extending true grace to others I have to receive it myself. Before I can receive grace I have to acknowledge my brokeness; my need to be mended in the first place. If I cannot come to grips with the foundational fact that in my humanity I am broken… regardless of accolades or achievements, regardless of church attendance or logging volunteer hours, regardless even if someone else played a part in breaking me! If I can’t or won’t get on my knees and confess that I cannot love and live in grace on my own…if I remain determined to prove myself and my worth on my own…I will probably live in strife. I will constantly measure myself to what I see in others, am I superior or inferior? I will wear myself out trying to earn or capture God’s approval and the admiration of others. But! If I reach a place of humility, if I hear the sounds of grace calling from the Heavens, if I am willing let go of my pride, control or denial…if I bow before my Maker, the only One who can give me worth, and let Him shatter the remains of my determination to run my life…I will find freedom. Freedom to be myself because God is only interested in loving me and helping me grow. Grace does not mean you don’t tell the truth. But truth in grace is motivated by love, not a desire to make one pay.
Do you live in God’s grace yourself? When you sin do you run to your loving Father and ask forgiveness knowing He is just waiting to give it? Do you look to Him for your worth? Do you really believe in your heart of hearts He longs to be a part of your daily life because He enjoys being with you? Do you trust Him enough to let Him lead and you follow? Do you anticipate the river of joy that flows through you when you jump into a life of crazy love and amazing grace? Plain and Simple: this is why Jesus came.
We cannot give grace if we don’t receive it. We will not continue to live in grace if we do not practice extending it to others (no matter how difficult!). Does this seem like too difficult a way to live? Truly it’s the easiest…once we stop fighting and let grace win.