The Bible is full of commands for us to obey, but without the grace to do them, we just load ourselves up with impossible to-do lists accompanied by large doses of guilt.
For instance, we are to rejoice always. How can we do this when we don’t feel like rejoicing? We can pretend until it gets too hard, and then we can snap at the kids. The Bible tells us to love our children. How can we do this when we are tired and the kids need our attention and patience? Patience wears thin quickly when we are looking to our own resources and clamping down on our own annoyance.
If we think that we can live the Christian life merely by having lots of high-sounding biblical principles, then we are guaranteed a face plant. And when we face plant, we can thank God that He has kindly shown us our weakness, so we can turn to Him for strength. We are needy creatures and we need a Savior. When we look to Christ and ask for His strength, He freely gives us all we need. This includes a cheerful spirit, even when we don’t feel like it, love for our neighbor when our neighbor is unkind. Jesus carries our burdens, comforts our sorrows, refreshes our spirits, raises us from the dead with Him.
We must not simply reduce the Christian life to a list of rules about courtship, marriage, and childrearing. No matter how many books we read or how many seminars and conferences we attend, if we are not looking to Christ, it is all a bunch of nothing. But if we have grace, then good teaching will point us to Christ over and over again, and we will become more like Him with each new principle that we learn and apply. This is our sanctification. Being and doing are two different things, and the one must precede the other. First we are to be attached to Christ; then we do what He commands. This is how we work out what He has worked in.
8 thoughts on “Principles Without Grace”
So great!!!! My husband is so faithful to remind me of this when I start freaking out about how I’m not getting it all done, whatever “it all” happens to be right then. It is invariably because I’m looking to myself. Duh. 🙂
Fantastic – thanks so much for the encouragement!
1 Corinthians 13:1-3 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”
What a much needed word! This is absolutely the truth that frees. Without the grace side of it, the principles side tends paralyze me into inaction (and freaking out about “it all” …couldn’t agree more, bean!). Thanks for a timely message for today!
One great thing I have always appreciated it that you always direct our attentions away from our own abilities and toward Christ instead. This counsel is in my head constantly, thank you!
I so missed not hearing you in person in Cary this past weekend!
“Being and doing are two different things, and the one must precede the other. First we are to be attached to Christ; then we do what He commands. This is how we work out what He has worked in.” Thanks for this post. You and your husband are so good in helping me see what “being” is like, and then, how to “do.”
Working out what He has worked in,
Beautiful and timely. Thank you Nancy.
“And when we face plant, we can thank God that He has kindly shown us our weakness, so we can turn to Him for strength. We are needy creatures and we need a Savior.”
From someone who has done many face plants, I deeply appreciate this post, Nancy. Even more, I appreciate the Savior who inspired it. 🙂