The Way of Grace
‘And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.’
– 2 Corinthians 12:9
“When you pick up the cross of unpopularity, wherever you may be, you will find God’s grace is there, more than sufficient to meet your every need.”
– Billy Graham
The story of the two men, a pharisee and tax collector praying in the temple ( Luke 18:10–14) just about sums up the two extremes of life: one group who are not as good as they think they are, and another group who know they are not as good as they need to be.
And there they were, together in the temple, the icon of God’s desire to dwell with men and atone for their sin. The very design of the temple with its various gates and plazas stood as an invitation to sinners, both Jewish and non-Jewish. The sacrificial system, with all its blood and gore, was a daily reminder of man’s inability to gain a right standing with God through right behavior.
In the temple there was no room for self-righteousness and there was no need to cower behind one’s sinfulness. Alas, it seemed everyone had missed the point.
The self-righteous chased sinners away, and their own shame kept the sinners running.
And then Jesus showed up. He came to break the stalemate between self-deluded moralists and honest infidels. He came to shine a penetrating light of reality on the self-righteous and to offer those who were full of shame a way back.
Jesus, God in a body, was not uncomfortable surrounded by those who most needed the bridge back to God that only grace could provide.
Jesus said, I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ (Matthew 9:13)
The word translated “mercy” is the Hebrew term chesed. This was the term used to describe God’s grace. “I desire grace, not sacrifice.” His point?
God prioritizes grace over sacrifice.
Chances are, there’s a little bit of both in all of us. We are judgmental of certain types of people or behaviors, and then we can turn around and put ourselves in time-out — self-inflicted exile from the presence of God.
But in either case we step onto the well-worn path of graceless religion. Either way you choose you find yourself further from the grace of God. After all, the flip side of “I’m not worthy” is “But with enough time and effort I could be.”
Here’s what I think Matthew would tell us after watching Jesus: there’s a third way. The way of grace.
The way of grace is offered; it is not earned. It is offered to all people, regardless of who they are.
So when you catch yourself bouncing back and forth between judging others and condemning yourself, pause.
Pause and remember: you can’t be good enough; you don’t even have to be. That is the way of grace. His grace is sufficient for you!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for your amazing grace. Help me to rest in the revelation that I am saved by grace not by works. May my boast and confidence be in your abundant grace and not self-righteousness. May I never again live ashamed but rather full of confidence in your presence. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.