God’s Grace; September 9, 2017

Ezra 9:13 “What has happened to us is a result of our evil deeds and our great guilt, and yet, our God, you have punished us less than our sins have deserved and have given us a remnant like this.”

This is the place far more people need to come to: recognizing that we have gotten far better than we deserved. We write, and read, books such as Why Bad Things Happen to Good People, and lump ourselves automatically in with the “good people,” when an honest assessment of God’s laws and our actions would bring us to a very different conclusion. Paul put it this way: “Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness leads you towards repentance?” (Romans 2:4) God’s rules are meant for our good, and on top of that, He is by His very nature worthy of our total obedience. Most of the time we simply ignore Him! We tend to be like the nine lepers Jesus healed, rather than the one who came back to thank Him. (Luke 17:11-19) We accept His blessings and think we earned them, rather than recognizing His grace toward us. We love the song, Amazing Grace, but we understand it very little. If God acted toward us as we act toward each other, the human race would have been destroyed long ago! Of course the ultimate expression of God’s grace is the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His Son Jesus. None of us would have sacrificed our own child for such ungrateful wretches as we are! An accurate grasp of who He is and what we are will certainly lead us into love and devotion to Him, out of sheer, amazed, gratitude.

This is something I’ve known intellectually for a long time, but my gratitude isn’t consistent or absolute. I can indeed say, in the words of a song by Bill Gaither, “The longer I serve Him the sweeter He grows.” I have no legitimate room to complain about any part of my life, but I do it anyway. I torment myself with resentment and frustration, rather than trusting my Lord who has been so incredibly gracious toward me. I listen to my flesh or the world instead of to Him, and I fail to do what He tells me and I do what He has told me not to do. That’s no proper response to His love and grace! In the middle of my imperfection, I am tasked with shepherding the flock of God. That should keep me on my face before Him even more than it does. Like Paul, I am well aware that I’m not yet made perfect, (Philippians 3:12-14) and I won’t be until I stand before His throne. Meanwhile, I need to keep working on getting out of the way so that He can manifest Himself through me, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I am often tempted to resentment at what happens to me, as well as to the idiocy of thinking I am better than other people. Help me walk in grateful, consistent humility, so that nothing will get in the way of what You want to do through me to draw others to Yourself, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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