“Grace, then, is grace,–that is to say, it is sovereign, it is free, it is sure, it is unconditional, and it is everlasting.” ~ Alexander Whyte
I had no sooner finished my quiet time and closed my Bible when the phone rang. It was from someone who was under a lot of stress. After just a few minutes, the conversation turned tense. The person on the other end became upset, frustrated, and in turn, admittedly controlling. I knew they tended to get that way, especially when overwhelmed or scared, and they just happened to be both at the time. And instead of being understanding, I responded defensively.
When I hung up the phone, I was immediately sorry for how I’d let my emotions get in the way. I repented (and later apologized in person), but instead of feeling a sense of relief, I felt like a total failure where possessing the fruit of the Spirit was concerned. I hadn’t been very kind or loving or gentle and my patience was next to non-existent.
And I’m sure it never happens to you (or does it?), but my mind went into overdrive and suddenly I got caught up in a firestorm of questions. How could I treat this person this way? What was my problem anyway? What in the world had come over me? And what was the point of reading my Bible if I was just going to turn around and sin all over someone?
After more than a few minutes, I finally put myself on a “time out” and walked outside to pray. Ummm, yeah. Probably should have done that in the first place.
Once outside, I stopped to just b-r-e-a-t-h-e. Because when things escalate, we tend to hold our breath. Not. helpful.
When my thoughts began to clear, I asked the Lord to help me understand why things had unraveled so quickly. That’s when I was reminded of the verse in Romans 6:14. “For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under the law, but under grace.”
I had forgotten who the disagreement was really with. I allowed the caller to emotionally pull me into their problem which resulted in disharmony between us.
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness and against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Eph.6:12
I had been holding myself up to the law. To a certain “standard”, and when I failed, I became angry instead of receiving God’s grace. God never holds us up to the law (“do this, don’t do that”), because He knows we can never, ever fulfill the law. Instead, He offers us grace through Christ.
Sometimes it’s easier to offer grace to others than it is to ourselves.
I got caught up in the rapid-fire thoughts, instead of using the Word to refute them. The litany of questions I’d heard in my mind held no hint of grace; instead, every one of them was demanding and judgmental, sounding suspiciously like the law. And they certainly weren’t from God. The Lord never berates us. He never uses insults to change our thinking or behavior.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Cor. 10:5
We’re never more in need of the gospel of grace than when we mess up.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Heb.4:16
Do you find it hard to receive God’s grace when you make a mistake or mess up? Does it depend on the “degree” of the mistake? Can you relate to the rapid-fire thoughts I experienced?