A few years ago, while traveling out of state to take our daughter to college, I heard a sermon about God’s grace and what I have to offer him that bounced my heart & mind out of a rut of misconception about what I actually “have.”
This pastor had us jot words across a paper representing the good things or actions we as Christians do or have because of God. Like repenting of sin, salvation, prayer, reading the Bible, following Jesus, trusting him, serving others, sharing the gospel, surrendering our will in favor of his, etc. Then he had us draw an arrow from the good act pointing up or down, depending on where the act originates. For example, if prayer is from you to God, draw an arrow up from that word. If salvation comes from God to us, draw an arrow down.
When we’d finished, he smiled and asked how it went, was it a mix with more or less one way than the other, etc. He smiled again and showed us his “paper.” All the arrows pointed down. Everything good we have and do and offer to God comes from God, by his grace.
I’d always been grateful and amazed by the grace or unmerited favor of God, but had never attributed every “good thing” in my life to being gifts of grace. Not that I ever took “credit” for being a new creation in Christ, but it had never occurred to me until that moment that EVERYTHING I thought I’d given or surrendered to God was given by the power of his grace, not mine. Every spiritual act, every good deed. If I am inclined to pray, he inspired that. If I think to serve someone in need, he supplied the thought and the drive, courage, resources, etc, to follow through.
I realized I got nuthin. And I was relieved! I realized anything I strive to do for God is not up to me and my puny strength and sporadic inspiration, but each of these acts come about through him, by him, for him. So rather than reacting with the thought that Hey, I can’t do anything good on my own, might as well give up, I find great freedom in having nothing to offer. He does want me to follow and trust and serve and live in him with an eternal focus, but not through my limited strength and flawed human abilities. I don’t have to depend on myself at all, (this coming from a fiercely independent chick!!) but I depend entirely on God and his amazing, unmerited grace toward me. Since I got nuthin, I’m not limited. I’m free to rely on the power of Christ in me for everything I do. Like I’m off the hook, but only to get out of the way and let him do his thing. Does that make sense?
2 Corinthians 12:9, the Lord tells us, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in your weakness.” This is not license to be weak and do nothing, this is a promise that if we set our little box of good deeds aside, he can really get to work through us. The possibilities are endless, since it all originates with him.
God LOVES you. He wants YOU so much that he paid the highest price for your redemption. And he didn’t stop with your ransom. He wants to cleanse, renew, and empower you to live each day in him. By his grace, we have the promise of an unimaginable eternity with him.
Do you see his grace at work in your life?
The end of this Hillsong video says it all…