But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain.- 1 Corinthians 15:10
But for grace…
I have been thinking about these words lately. Rolling the feel of their weight through my thoughts and pondering Paul’s words to the Corinthian church…they to us as well, we need to hear the message of grace and His working in us. Because His Word is for us, for our good and our teaching and our filling. And Hebrews 4:12 reminds us that this good Word is not only alive, but it is powerful and sharp and piercing and soul-changing.
So we need to sit with it and wait with in every way we can.
And this verse Paul is pointing out how there is not one faltering aspect of God’s kindness and mercy towards us, but also that the accomplishments… the life we lived out day-by-day, victories and overcomings and learning and growing, it is His handiwork in us. Paul knew it. He was humble enough to realize that the way God met the world was through a willing and imperfect human who just said, yes.
And grace reminds us that kindness and mercy are the tools with which He constructs our journey. Without them would we know peace fully, would we know the perfection of His company if not for his kindness towards us and the holy humility of His mercy extended our way?
But for grace we are what we are because His grace is never in vain where He works it in us and extends it toward us.
So why are we stingy with it to one another or even ourselves?
I am undone by the thought of it. Because grace is a now thing, something we can give in abundance if we wish, and never come to the end of it.
The present is the only time in which any duty may be done or grace received.- C. S. Lewis
Matthew Henry said that Paul wrote these words in recollection of His value of Himself before Christ and the mercy of the resurrection. He admonished that the unbelieving servant of Christ, one who didn’t keep faith in the gospel, believed in vain. And the gospel of Christ is a gospel of grace. It is a charter of mercy and hope and promise. And as Mr. Henry writes, apart from our full understanding of Christ’s work in us and through us, ‘Divine Grace ‘ defines the value of the miracle of salvation in us… changing sinner to saint…equipping the redeemed in order to become the called.
One Bible commentary said, “Grace is virtually the sole-agent” of the work done in us. This work that is never in vain and continually in process. This saving grace kind of work that can only come through the pursuance of His Holy Spirit set out to save the lost and redeem what is fully His own.
But for grace…
Last week we learned that a family we love has been handed a diagnosis that is shaking up their whole world. This dad of a tribe, husband of one, pastor of many, owner of the best-laugh-ever is fighting for his life and it is not fair.
Yesterday my husband told me that a friend of his tried to take his own life. There are no words for this. He was unsuccessful, he is still alive… but the world for him is now drastically changed. The prognosis does not look good. It is not right.
A few days ago my daughter and I sat across from a professional who gathered up papers and handed out hard words that we knew but didn’t want to hear. It is what it is. I am letting the unsettling be filtered through grace. It is a breaking kind of news but it is also a building one. Her story, my story, intertwined and refined, has the makings of beautiful things. But it is hard.
My grace is sufficient for you; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.- 2 Cor 12:9
But for grace….
But for the sufficiency of His kindness, His favor, His mercy my view would not be good. Let’s be real for a moment. Without His grace as our filter, it is difficult to see how tomorrow is going to settle the hard of today, or the way that our conversations without grace seem to weigh deep in our soul more than the eternal trueness of the Words He has spilled out for us to embrace and to receive for redemption.
But for grace I am compelled to look differently. I am burdened to set aside the feelings of regret and of faithless words, I am inspired to sift them carefully with the filter that justifies trials by perfecting our temporary shell and refining our eternal self. I am invited to say yes to the way that lets the broken edges be refined be wholly holy love that saw how desperately we needed to be rescued.
And I am needing to remember this today as I think about the ways that I am wrestling with the unsettling and the difficult and the unanswerable. Perhaps you need to do this, too?
We need to let grace be our filter. Kindness. Mercy. Favor. It’s how Paul saw the completion of His ministry, ascribing God’s grace the validation of the perfecting it brings.
But for grace our work would be without His handprint. It is the mark of the called to live out our days in this fashion. It is the calling-card of a Christian to let grace win.
Our labors, our trials, our working… it is not in vain because of His grace, because of Christ.
So it should change us.
It should also free us to love each other better, friend. It should gift us with the freedom to love and to forgive better, to listen and to wait together, to accept and to challenge deeper, to know and to be known fuller.
Because in every instance, in the big and the small and everything in between on our journey… it is the grace of God working in us. It is His benevolent love that changes us and perfects us. It is His miraculous gift we don’t deserve that saves us, that we should be pouring out to one another.
I am tired of not being enough to fit into someone else’s circle (or my imagination of what that may be), of not going to the right church, or reading the right translation of the Bible, or having the perfect anything, or whatever you want to fill in the blank. I am weary of hearing of the many who are just needing to know love instead of condemnation or loneliness or lack. These false truths that we pile on ourselves and each other, the ‘not good enough’ title we allow to steal grace from being given needs to stop. All these little things, that part us and break us give way easily to the power of grace, if we let it. Because Jesus made it possible. He forged the way with every blood-stained step.
Grace… sweet unmerited favor from God that offers forgiveness, not because of who we are but because of what Jesus did. – Whitney Daugherty
But for grace…
We need to do better.
We need to love like it matters.
We need to listen like it is important.
We need to hear like it is relevant.
We need to see like it is significant.
We need to pray like our lives depend on it.
We need to give grace.
We need Jesus.
Because we are all breaking into pieces. And our stories don’t have to mesh perfectly to fit into the narrative of His. And they don’t have to be neat and orderly and tidy and clean. Because they are not. And in truth, grace reminds us we need to be willing to stand together and lift up our hands our hearts together, to build up and not tear down, to break through and not break apart, to repair and not repeat the chaos, to stand strong not oppose and defeat.
It takes all sorts to make a world; or a church. This may be even truer of a church. If grace perfects nature it must expand all our natures into the full richness of the diversity which God intended when he made them, and Heaven will display far more variety than Hell. – C. S. Lewis
But for grace…. it is the finishing work of Christ in us. It is a beautiful work of hope and of love and of life and of light. It is a redeeming glory and a crowning wonder of the way He works in our misery to redeem His story.
Where are you needing to be reminded that His sufficiency is more than enough to carry you today?
Know you are being prayed for, being lifted High in steadfast prayer right now… you are not alone… His grace is actively strong and powerfully full. Lean in. Wait there. Rest.
IT’S YOUR TURN TO BE A GRACE COUNTER! SHARE YOUR GRACE MOMENT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW AND THEN COUNT GRACE WITH A FRIEND WITH COMMENT ON A BLOG OR TWO.
If you are a blogger, link up here with a post about finding grace moments in your life or one of your favorite inspiring and encouraging posts from this week. Share your thoughts in the comment section telling me about the #Grace Moments you experienced this week. *(only 1 post per link please)*
Take time to visit your neighbor next to you, and if you want visit a few more friends on the journey. We all need a little encouragement and affirmation as we travel together.
If you don’t have a blog, you can connect with me via my Journeys in Grace FB page by sharing a photo or a comment. Or you can join the party by sharing your images on Instagram with #Gracemoments hashtag.
Each week I will try visit as many of your amazing posts as I can.This is a safe place to sit and dwell in grace together, friends. I can’t wait to pour a cup of friendship with you and take in the grace moments you have to share. Don’t forget to leave a comment below, I love to hear from you.