Tag Archives: holiness

Stop Asking for God’s Grace

How do I react when I make a mistake, when I don’t do what I want to do and I do what I don’t want to do (Rom. 7:19-20), when I sin?

Hopefully, the immediate or near immediate reaction is remorse and repentance. Often that is the case. Often another human emotional response is guilt. Guilt can be good to an extent, if it leads to repentance and change.

If I’ve repented and changed, guilt no longer has a place. But what if it won’t let go? It could mean that there’s more the Holy Spirit is trying to show me. Or I could just be holding into the guilt because of shame or habit or some other reason. That’s no good.

It can be hard to let go of guilt, especially if my sin affects or harms others. If I lash out in anger at someone, I can ask God to forgive me, and He does. But I also have to ask that person to forgive me and then deal with the consequences of my actions. If it’s been a habitual problem, it can be even more difficult to lay down the guilt.

Recently, I was discussing with a local priest this issue of guilt robbing us of grace. How does a repeat offender (aka all humans), keep coming back and asking for more grace? His answer floored me.

He basically reminded me that, as a human, I’m never worthy of the grace and mercy that I need. I have fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). But he also reminded me of the good news – I can never exhaust God’s grace and mercy. His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:23).

He gave, what was for me, life-changing advice: “Stop asking for God’s grace, and start cooperating with it.”

Stop asking for grace, and start cooperating with it. That one sentence changed my entire perspective. Why would I ask for something that’s already been given? The grace of God is a gift that was already given two millennia ago. It is free. It is for you and for me.

So what does it mean to cooperate with grace? I don’t know that I have a complete answer.

It seems that this cooperation begins with repentance. Then laying down guilt at the foot of the Cross and walking in a new freedom. It means laying that guilt down every time we’re tempted to pick it up again. It means finding ways to change and grow stronger in spirit to better resist the next temptation which tries to come between us and God. It means allowing the Holy Spirit to search our hearts and root out anything that exalts itself against Him.

That is what it means to me, but I’m more interested in what you think. How do you cooperate with God’s grace?

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Why holiness?

The Bible has many commandments.

There are the Ten Commandments from Moses (Ex. 20). There are the two on which Christ said hang all the Law and Prophets – love God and love your neighbor (Matt. 22:36-40).

So why focus on holiness?

…present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Rom 12:1-2

I don't know about you, but I want to be in the perfect will of God.

That phrase, “which is your reasonable service” strikes me. Christ gave everything for us. He descended from heaven and became man for our sake. He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified for our sake. And He rose again on the third day for our sake. Is it not reasonable then, that He asks us to sacrifice everything we have and follow Him?

The world tells us that this call to be holy is a burden, that we are sacrificing our joy and happiness for a God that doesn't always seem to stop the suffering we see all around us. The suffering of living in a fallen world, of being strangers in a strange land.

But Jesus tells us that His yoke is easy and His burden light.

I think too often we seek the world's version of joy and happiness, which is really just a depraved culture of instant gratification and selfishness. The world tells us that morality is relative and the only commandment is to fulfill our own desires. That is a quest of emptiness. If we fill ourselves with the things of the world, we will always need more.

God is calling His people to be set apart. To lay down the yoke of the world and let Him fill us with Himself. How can we as Christians break the world's perception, that as a whole, we are just a bunch of judgmental hypocrites? We have to become holy and acceptable and living sacrifices. It's time to practice what He preached and daily take up our cross and follow Him whatever the cost.

If we do that, He will fill us with Himself. And He is the living water that eternally quenches our thirst. He will satisfy you. Trust that promise.

Today, I leave you with this quote:

Personal holiness is the answer to every problem. In every situation in my life, in every problem, in every difficulty, I know that if I allow the values and principles of the Gospel to guide me, it will turn out for the best. It will not always turn out as I wish, but I will be a better person for having lived the Gospel in that situation, and because of that, my future will be richer. –Matthew Kelly

 


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