In the last blog I suggested we need grace more than we can imagine. We need it all the time and in every matter. We need grace to feel secure and be secure about who we are, and we need grace to learn from our weaknesses.
Another very specific need for grace is to season our speech. The apostle Paul said, “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace.” Grace has to do with how we respond to people. Few things are as destructive as your tongue or speech. If you are an angry or a mean person, keep it a secret that you’re a Christian. Truth alone can be harsh and abrasive. It is grace that enables truth to be more likely received and makes it palatable. Allow grace to cushion your words so that truth can be received without needless offense. Do this as a parent. Do this as a son or daughter. Do this as a boss or employee. Do this as a friend. Do this as a follower of Christ.
We also need grace to resist compromise. Hebrews says, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.” Times were hard. Persecutions were abounding, martyrdom was plentiful, and some were wondering, “Have I believed in vain? Should I continue in this Christian walk?” Some were recanting their allegiance in Christ. Today we experience this in the workplace where there is a tendency to concede, to stay quiet when the subject of faith surfaces. But it is grace that strengthens us and helps us be ourselves. It removes the phony. It makes us authentic and most people are thirsty for the real deal. Give them the real deal. Not a perfect deal but a real deal with faults, imperfections, and all the junk. That is the very reason we need grace in the first place: to resist the compromise to impress and instead be authentic.
Lastly, we need grace to remind us that God is God. James said, “But he gives us more grace”. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." Peter goes on to say, “Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble’". Few qualities are more stubbornly persistent within us than pride. Because it doesn’t fit the Christian life for us to be overtly proud, we express it other ways: our work, our salaries, our prestige, the power and influence we may wield, our titles, our style, our approach with people, and our tendency to manipulate. Pride is a classic grace killer. Pride deceives us into thinking God is not able to defend Himself or those who love Him (us). He is fully capable of defending Himself and we do not need to impress others with our cultural accomplishments anyway. Others approval does not give your life value or meaning. At best it only affirms your life has value. Did you catch that? Others approval doesn’t give you value, it simply affirms the value you already have.
Look for the presence of grace in your life and reinforce its presence. Do this by having great gratitude in daily matters. This isn’t rocket science. Count your daily blessings. Practice contentment. Prefer joy over happiness. Manage your anxieties. Those thoughts fueled by anxieties are not the truth. Recognize that and dismiss those thoughts.
Look for the absence of grace in your life and address that reality. The absence of grace usually shows up in painful consequences, conflicted relationships, and irrational thinking patterns. We all have those in our lives so we all have plenty to work on. One of my favorites these days is Tullian Tchividjian, a Presbyterian pastor in Florida. He recently said, “No matter how many times we’ve blown it, how many years we’ve been unsuccessfully trying to get better, God attaches no strings to his love.”
Grace to you. I welcome your comments. Matt.