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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learning More About Grace

For the past two weeks or so grace has really been on my mind. I'm not sure exactly why, but I've been thinking about times when I've really needed grace from God and others. Actually, I've been thinking a lot about how people have reacted to my sin. It's a natural tendency for humans to judge one another and compare themselves. I can remember times when I'd feel so convicted to share sin with others and I'd finally work up the nerve to tell them about it and I was met with judgment and condemnation. And often I'd have to "work my way back" into their favor. I can even remember one time when I was told that my friend "didn't care if this was legalistic or not" when she told me of my "punishment" she was bestowing on me.

That isn't grace. I don't think I understood what true grace was until about a year or two ago. It was a time when I was confessing my shortcomings and my friends looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, "I'm hurting with you. I want to help you through this. How can I help you come back to Jesus?" Just the memory of it brings tears to my eyes. My heart was so warmed to them. I loved them with increasing measure. And it made me want to confess my other sins so that I could be lovingly brought back to the cross. I didn't fear their condemnation. I could finally understand Romans 8:1-2 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." I don't have to fear man because Christ has already set me free.

I also now understand why confession is good. The verse James 5:16 was such a puzzle to me, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." For years this verse terrorized me because I just couldn't imagine confessing sin to other people, or how in the world it would lead to any good. Now I know. Over the last two years I've confessed so much sin, and God has been so faithful to use His church to work that sin out of me. Sure, there's a group of about twelve girls who know all my "dirty little secrets," but I also know that they are the ones who are going to weather my storms with me. I could call any one of them at any time of the day or night and know that they would be there for me. I should also say at this point, that my husband has shown me the most grace I've ever experienced outside of God's saving grace. Nothing can come close to his daily patience and forgiveness of my sins.

So how has all this made me love God more? Because I have experience grace from sinful, finite humans and it has radically changed my life and I know that God's grace is a gazillion times better than theirs. I can't even comprehend that. God sent His Son to die so that He could show me grace that I didn't deserve. I am so thankful that God gave us His church so that we can understand, even if at a fraction of the depth, His grace, mercy and love.

Grace Grace

God's Grace

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within

Grace Grace

God's Grace

Grace that is greater than all our sin


Big B said...

Amen. What an encouragement. It is wonderful to walk this road of grace with you.

God has been so good to us that it's hard to begin to formulate a description, but I like yours - what we see and understand is just a "fraction" of what He truly has done. Let us boast only in the cross, where He bought us and freed us and promised to forever pour out His grace upon us!

Anonymous said...

i agree with this wholeheartedly. I also did not understand until very recently. I hope we can talk more about this in the future! Because I know some of it involves the two of us, though it was ages ago!