Enjoying grace 1

Some people seem to enjoy God’s grace more than others. Why is that?!

The number one reason is that we just don’t get it. Sure, we may know that God loves us and Christ died for us. We may be grateful for the life he saved us from and the future He has given us. Somehow though it doesn’t touch us.

Grace, that is God’s unmerited loving favour towards us, is not a concept that the world is familiar with. You don’t see many people loving you unconditionally in the face of knowing the very worst about you. We soon learn that you have to put a spin on how you present yourself – if you want to be accepted. Who hasn’t done that?

In fact deep down we begin to recognise what people expect us to be if we want to have their approval. It doesn’t take long before we turn inwards to see what we expect of ourselves in order to feel good. If we are concerned about what God thinks, we anticipate His expectations and add them to this picture of the ideal person we need to be in order to be loved and accepted, to be worthwhile and valuable.

The next step is automatic, we start trying to live up to this standard that other people, ourselves, and God expect of us. Boy is that an exasperating experience. We get depressed if we feel we’re not making the grade, we get angry if other people point out were not making the grade, and we run frenetically on our hampster wheels to keep up the charade. Sound familiar? Yeah, we all do it.

The Bible has a label for this, its called self righteousness. In other words getting our value from what we do, or who we pretend to be. Truth is we can’t enjoy grace while we are doing that. We have to stop and get off the hampster wheel, but how?

The gospel has to be real to us. Jesus didn’t just die for us, he also lived for us. That means that all good things He did are seen by God as belonging to us. He replaces our marred self righteousness and replaces it with His perfect righteousness. Am I worth while? Well if I am not then Jesus isn’t because I have His righteousness. Am I good enough? Well if I am not then Jesus isn’t. Am I Approved and accepted and loved? Well if not, neither is Jesus. Thank God, He is all that and more which means if you are a Christian then so are you.

The tricky part now is owning it. Every time your tempted to play the game, to justify yourself, to appear to someone in a better light – stop yourself and say “I don’t need to do that any more, I am good enough, I am righteous already in Christ.” Boy, when that sinks in the pressure comes off and the joy starts flowing.

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