Psalm 51: Violent GraceMonday, January 2, 2012
Our relationship with the Lord is never anything other than a relationship of grace. It is grace that brought us into His family. It is grace that keeps us in it and it is grace that will continue us in it forever. But the grace that we have been given is not always comfortable grace. Here is why.
As sinners we all become way too comfortable with our sin. The thought that once bothered becomes an action that no longer plagues our conscience. The word that troubled us the first time it was uttered, now is accompanied by others that are worse. The marriage that was once a picture of biblical love has now become a relationship of cold-war detente. Commitment to work degenerates into doing as little as I can for as much pay as I can negotiate. A commitment to a devotional life now become perfunctory and empty duty, more like getting my ticket punched for heaven than enjoying communion with my Lord. Minor, unexpressed irritation, which once troubled my heart, is now fully expressed anger that is easily rationalized away. Sin is like the unnoticed drips of water that silently destroy the foundation of a house.
You see, we all have a perverse capacity to be comfortable with what God says is wrong. So God blesses us with violent, uncomfortable grace. Yes, He really does love us enough to crush us, so that we would feel the pain of our sin and run to Him for forgiveness and deliverance. David says, "let the bones You have crushed rejoice." (verse 8) It is a curious phrase. Crushed bones and rejoicing don't seem to go together. You wouldn't say, "Hooray, I have a broken bone!" But that is very close to what David is saying. He is using the searing pain of broken bones as a metaphor of the pain of heart that you feel when you really see your sin for what it is. That pain is a good thing!
Think about it. The physical pain of an actual broken bone is worth being thankful for because it's a warning sign something is wrong in that arm or leg. In the same way, God's loving hammer of conviction is meant to break your heart and the pain of heart you feel is meant to alert you to the fact that something is spiritually wrong inside of you. Like the warning signal of physical pain, the rescuing and restoring pain of convicting grace is a thing worth celebrating!
So God's grace isn't always comfortable because He isn't primarily working on our comfort, He's working on our character. With violent grace He will crush us because He loves us and is committed to our restoration, deliverance, and refinement. And that is something worth celebrating!