The next post in the Warrior Heart Series: Learning to Wear a Garment of Grace is opening a door to my servant-hearted friend, Amy. Please take a moment to stop by and visit Amy as her door is opened to build others up and embrace the giving lifestyle. We are talking about giving and receiving grace like we would give a cup of fresh water. Dispensing refreshment through His gift of grace is like sewing up an apron as a gift of hospitality to the friends in our lives. As always, I am asking you to continue the conversation at the end of the post with questions and thoughts of your own. I would love to hear from your heart on this topic.
Grace is a byword among many Christians, used with too much ease. I say it far too often, and employ it much less. I wonder, though, when we stop and consider the power behind the not-so-simple concept, just what it really does look like to us?
I am learning that grace is the antidote to self; the opposite of selfishness is service.
If I were to ask you what a true servant looked like, what would you say?
Images quickly come to mind of the willing heart who gives continuously without asking for anything in return, always determined to make a way to bless others. Someone who wears grace well, who layers their wardrobe with the various accouterments which will meet the daily tasks ahead. Someone who takes time to spend themselves, not just resources, on others. Someone who can give a cup of water to the thirsty heart in a dry and parched season.
Jesus talked about someone who wears grace well in the 9th chapter of Mark when He revealed the heart of the true disciple. The power of being a servant, choosing our many layers with purpose, stands tall in this chapter. It is one verse, however, that makes me pause, and… I think…gives an ample description of a grace giver.
For I tell you truly, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you belong to and bear the name of Christ will by no means fail to get his reward. – Matthew 9:41
There is a premise that we need to understand here: In order to pass this drink of blessing on, we must first receive this life-giving drink from the hand of the Lord ourselves. We need to learn how to put on the garment of a servant, much like an apron of grace, in order to carry a pitcher of refreshment to those in our path.
This apron of grace is not an easy garment. Yet to be His disciple, to be a Christ follower, we must put it on. It isn’t our design, but an upside down paradigm that ultimately points to way of the Cross.
Like anything in the Kingdom of God we may need a paradigm shift to see the purpose of the tools we use. Instead of wearing the apron to protect us, we cover ourselves with His grace to bless others. The apron covers our mess, cleansing us to bless. We are in no way fit to wear this garment, but we are given the privilege to wear it with joy.
Grace makes giving a drink of hope to others second nature because we know what it means to be parched and dry. We know what it feels like to need a drink that quenches. This apron of grace we add to our closet of coverings allows the opportunity to step into the gulch and spill into others. Seeing our brokenness allows us to be a reservoir of refreshment to someone who is waiting at the table but their cup is empty.
Catch this friends>>>> YOU ARE THE PITCHER.
Out of the volume of His Grace, which He pours over us, we then serve others in diligent surrender. Grace is extended the very moment we pick up the apron of a servant and pour out the life He has poured into us.
What happens when grace becomes a tagline in the realm of ‘Christianese’?
It feels empty and hollow, and leaves us questioning if it is even real. We see it so often, don’t we? We feel its sting in the comments and the actions of shallow conversation.
If we don’t know how to receive grace as our daily portion, it is nearly impossible to serve grace freely to others.
What is that grace we serve?
You know… real grace:
- the kind that wants to see someone else win the prize, even if that means you don’t… because that is loving your neighbor in real life.
- the kind that prays that someone else is blessed way beyond their dreams, even when you are needing that blessing yourself…because that is the image of Cross-shadowed living.
- the kind that serves without any expectation in return, even when no one else sees…because anonymity is one of the fruits of true servanthood.
There was this kind of liberality in the Macedonian Church that Paul writes about in 2 Cor. 8:1-5. When I read this I was astonished at the grace that oozed out of their loving on each other. These people were servants, friends.
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. ( emphasis mine)
The passionate pursuit of grace guides us down roads of selfless living, leading us to put others before ourselves, even in our lack. The abundance of received grace is sown as seeds of hope into others lives and the result has the power to be exponential in measure. And isn’t God’s economy like that? When we give ourselves to the Lord, willfully surrendering our everything He multiplies Himself within us. We become servant-minded, just like Christ. As we put on the servant apron, we make the choice to stand back and see HIM work through our willing hands.
Because of Grace: we can see clearer… we can see love.
Because of Grace: we can raise the broken up… we can be vessels of hope.
Because of Grace: we can set treasures in jars of clay … we can serve w/o expectation.
Because of Grace: We get to watch God be God,and that is life changing!
As a servant serves, we lay our selfishness down in order to cover ourselves with the apron of grace.
The apron is a sign of work, which is usually messy but revealing something deep about the character within. In our wretchedness, He plants grace seeds in the soil of mercy and waters them with love. Our growth is encouraged but our blindness is cured by His light shining upon us, soaking into our soul, strengthening us to serve and lift one another up.
Are you ready to add the servant apron to your garments of grace friends?
Amy and I had a gentle conversation about something we both share a passion for: serving up grace. She has written a fantastic book about servant-hearted living called, More than Enough, which you can find here. She is also writing an inspirational series about growing strong daughters this summer on her blog. I encourage you to join her as she leads us in equipping our daughters to be strong in the Lord and put on their service aprons!
I’ve included our conversation in grace for you. They are letters to your heart as well. Thank you for letting me share the little revelations in grace I am learning with my friends on this journey to wearing grace as a garment.
I love that we can talk about a topic that is so infused with grace-filled living. Grace, to me, is a gift we can never fully deserve or earn… it is given from a place of fullness, a place where lack has not broken in and destroyed the landscape of love.
I see that quality in you, you are a giver. You are real and share pieces of yourself so willingly because you have learned the power in giving sacrificially. You have met with the One who teaches us to give from the very beginning because He, too, gave and gave and keeps on giving. Yet, He showed us what it can look like to lend love without fear of return.
What does it mean to you to empty yourself so that you can be a wholly cleansed vessel ready to be filled up again by grace?
What does it mean to pour grace out into others lives?
When we live life with a purpose to share Him, grace is always a result. It manifests in multiplicative ways where no duplicity is found, and still we wonder where He is leading us and we question when we see that our hands may be yet empty.
I am so grateful you are willing to wrestle these words with me, to consider how to match our wardrobe with the colors that grace paints. Thank you for the example of sacrificial living you have set and for the time you are giving to journey a little while with me.Your servant apron is shining like a breastplate of faith and it is inspiring. I see His goodness shine as you serve others; I am blessed.
Walking with you in Grace,
I’ve been thinking long and hard about this. Is it too late to switch topics? Ha! Only kidding. Grace is hard for me, very hard.
So, to me, grace is something we can’t earn and don’t deserve. When we find true grace, it is unexpected and we often feel overwhelmed. No matter how we strive, we can’t earn grace, and as someone who is a perpetual do-er, it feels great to know abundant grace is mine right here, right now and I can’t do a thing about it.
I used to think I offered grace easily to others but not to myself, but after some time and prayer, I think I offer a compartmentalized portion of grace to others and still not well to myself (boo).
I am afraid the same high standards I hold myself to, I often hold those in my life to as well.
This is a disappointing self-realization especially because I have needed quite a bit of grace in my life!
I think I nail grace in some ways. I have a deep interest in others. I see the needs of others. I show grace with words and gratitude, but…need serious help in my ability to forgive others with grace (and not just for the big stuff!).
Anyway, back to your question of what does it mean to receive grace in order to give it to others?
For me, allowing myself grace is a conscience decision which must be made again and again. It is letting go of idea of perfectionism (which, hello, Amy is a big fat S-I-N!). It’s not just knowing, but truly embracing the idea that if the King of Kings believes in abundant grace, and it is my deep desire to love people well, I must learn grace for myself.
As I am writing this, the sun is setting, and no joke, as I typed that last line, sun which was not there before, reached brightly through the window.
God is so awesome.
In honor of my sweet friend Amy, I am including a link to the song she sent to me when we were having this conversation. It is called, Broken Vessels (Amazing Grace) by Hilllsong Worship. It will bless your heart and speaks so well to this topic of being filled by grace to dispense it to others.
Now it is your turn to participate in the conversation!
The next challenge we need to take together in our journey towards grace-filled living, is sew up aprons to cover one another and serving that refreshing cup of water in order to dispense grace in our living. Let His grace cover the wretchedness that you feel keeps you from serving others and let the expectation of recognition fall. Let grace spill and His love pour in.
Step Six: Let’s rediscover the reconciliation of grace together. The power of extending grace first comes from the blessing of receiving grace. To who much is forgiven, much love is also extended. Love is the difference, friends. Love even when others don’t deserve it because in reality we don’t either. Let the pitcher of your soul be filled by His grace so that you can literally pour out grace to offer as a drink of refreshment to those who are parched and dry.
>>>>>The Questions to Ponder:
- How has the Lord taught you to wear grace as you are emptied of self in order to be filled by Him and pour into others?
- What is the biggest obstacle of grace-dwelling that you have found in your life which holds you back from both receiving and extending grace?
- What does wearing a servant’s apron mean to you? How does it look?
- When have you worn the garment of reception and redemption rather than selfishness?
- How can we find freedom in this area as women in Christ?
- Who has been an example of this to you in your life?
- Why are we afraid to wear grace together?
Linking up with friends for the journey:
SDG Sisters, Playdates with God, Unite, #RaRaLink Up, #TellHisStory, CoffeeForYourHeart, Wednesday Prayer Girls, Three Word Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday, Fellowship Friday, Faith and Fellowship Blog Hop, Missional Women, Counting My Blessings, Grace and Truth Link Up, Saturday Soiree, Still Saturday, The Weekend Brew, Give Me Grace, Faith Barista, Reflect His Glory, Everyday Jesus