"You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus."
2 Timothy 2:1
When I was in college, I took a weight lifting class. I took it with my roommate, Jerry. It was a fun class, an easy “A” and forced me to work out three times per week. As a result of that class, I have continued to lift weights for all these years. Sometimes it’s not too fun. Sometimes I want to follow Nancy Reagan’s advice and “just say no!” to the gym. But I always feel better after I lift, and it helps me grow in strength and fitness.
In the Christian life, God wants us to grow strong. He takes no delight in spiritual weaklings, in people who should be benching their weight by now, but are still struggling to push up the 40 pound bar. So, how can you and I really grow spiritually strong and be “cross fit”, so to speak?
A BIG step in the right direction is to grow in our understanding and application of grace.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND GRACE?
Grace is so critical in the Christian life. Grace is the unmerited, undeserved favor of God. It is God’s riches at Christ’s expense. It is the desire and power to live for Jesus. It is what saves us - “For by grace are you saved through faith …” (Eph. 2:8). It is what makes us the people God wants us to be. Paul said, “But by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). No one can live the Christian life apart from grace. Paul opened and closed every single epistle with a word about grace. The last verse in the New Testament says, “The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen” (Rev. 22:21). I think it is safe to say that grace is paramount.
Here is the sad truth: Many Christians don’t understand grace very well. They don’t walk with God based on grace. They end up walking with Him based on performance – if I’m doing good spiritually, God loves me, accepts me, and can use me … but if I’m failing in an area of my life, God doesn’t love me, doesn’t accept me, and can’t use me. The performance trap is an easy one to fall into. I know because I have fallen in more times than I can remember.
IT’S GRACE, NOT PERFORMANCE
One dear man wrote me recently saying he wanted to kill himself. He was a Christian but had failed God miserably. He loved the Lord, but he knew there was no way God could still love him. He was so distraught that he wanted to die.
What was his core problem? He had fallen into the performance trap and needed to grow in grace. You see, grace is not a reward for the righteous, but it’s a gift for the guilty.
God doesn’t accept any of us based on performance. He only accepts us based on His grace. The best of us has nothing to commend himself to God. While it is certainly true that the Lord wants us to obey Him and walk in victory, it is also true that we can’t do it without His grace. And His grace – the desire and power to live for Jesus (Bill Gothard’s wonderful definition) – is available to you and me today.
Hebrews 4:16 tells us that God sits on a throne of grace and has grace to help us in our time of need. Are you in need? Come to the throne in repentance and faith. Ask God for His grace which He freely bestows on those who boldly and humbly come before Him.
Refuse to live in the performance trap. Transform your mind with the truths of Scripture. Are you unworthy for God to love you, accept you, and work in your life? Absolutely! And so am I … and so was Paul. But by grace, we are accepted, loved, and useful to the Master.
“Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.” Don’t let the devil blow you over with his lies. You can live a life that pleases God and walk in victory over sin as you choose to apply His marvelous, matchless, amazing, abundant grace to your heart today and every day.
Will you do it?
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Jeff Schreve is Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church in Texarkana, Texas. He and his wife Debbie have been married for over 20 years and are blessed with three wonderful girls. Jeff began From His Heart Ministries, a radio and television ministry, in January of 2005. This ministry is completely listener/viewer supported. It continues only through the faithful and generous gifts of people like you. Pastor Jeff takes no salary from this ministry. All gifts go to further the broadcast.
Jesus taught us many things through His parables, including how to live life to the fullest!
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