Grace: Definition from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary
a : unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctificationb : a virtue coming from Godc : a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace
I've been doing a great deal of thinking about grace recently. So many people in the church use the phrase "give them grace," "God's grace," or something else similar. If you don't hear these sorts of phrases in your church then you probably hear more about what you should be doing and what you shouldn't be doing.
As I think about many of the churches I have attended over the years, most of them fall into one of those two categories. Very few fall in the middle. They may preach one or the other or preach something in the middle, but the overall attitude is either "give them grace and let them be" or "You better quit doing that or you're going to hell."
The more I thought about it the more I realize I have thought on this subject many times before, but under a different light. Before, I was coming at it from a judgement standpoint and how I believe we should judge one another. If you are reading this and haven't read my others posts, just hear me out before leaving.
I believe God gives us grace. He would have to, if there was any hope for us. I think we should extend that grace to other people. If for no other reason than out of the gratitude for what Christ has done for us. However, I also believe that we have our own personal responsibility to how we handle the grace we have been given.
As Paul put it in Romans 6:1-4, "What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life."
I find it interesting, that this verse represents the same basic discussion. It speaks of a balance of grace vs our own personal responsibility to "walk in the newness of life."
I have a hard time when it comes to people trying to outline what is a sin. I believe, as one friend put it, that anything that gets between you and God is a sin. Anything that becomes your God is a sin. It's pretty plain and simple. It's not always easy to overcome, but that is because we choose not to.
I also have a hard time with people just teaching grace. Not just grace, but a grace that allows people to continue to live their lives without regard to what God thinks and a grace that doesn't ask us to change and work towards getting to be more like Christ. We will never be perfect, we can't be, but that is where grace comes in.
I believe God wants us to want to be like Christ, to strive to be like Christ, to learn to be like Christ. When we stumble, and we will, that is when grace comes into play. He knows we have an inward battle. The goal is win the war, which he won for us. However, we can't win the war if we aren't fighting the battle.
Extend others grace because God has extended grace to us. Keep others accountable, because God keeps us accountable. Love others, because God loves us.