[For earlier posts in the Extending Grace series, see Intro, Part 1, and Part 2]
In his sermon a couple of weeks ago, Pete Wilson said, “everybody wants to talk about justice until they’ve done something wrong and when they’ve done something wrong . . . then they want to talk about grace.”
(Crosspoint is teaching an amazing series right now called Religion Lies. Click the link to check out the audio/video.)
I think that Pete’s statements above (and his current sermon series) are right on target. It goes along with what I’ve been talking about in this Extending Grace series. I struggle with trying to impose justice on others while I am the benefactor of boatloads of grace from God for all of the sin in my life.
However, I think there is another component to this. I strongly believe there is a subset of us that grew up in legalist environments, in guilt-ridden households, in condemning churches that makes it really hard for us to show grace to ourselves. I am talking about those of us who struggle to believe the nature of Jesus is restoration and not condemnation.
My justice-oriented heart is not subjective. When I mess up, fall short, hurt someone (and so on), I don’t use the “grace card” for myself. I start condemning myself; the dialogue in my head haunts me:
telling me I am worthless,
telling me I don’t deserve mercy,
telling me that I can never share Jesus with others when I cannot get it right myself,
telling me that this sin is too big for God’s forgiveness,
or that I have already used up my share of grace.
I know that Jesus forgives. I know that his sacrifice was (and is) perfect. But I sometimes struggle to release myself from the debt of my sin. I hold onto the guilt. I keep myself from fully receiving and understanding God’s grace.
A wise woman in my Bible Study pointed out this verse in Psalms last week:
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the LORD “—
and you forgave
the guilt of my sin.
God forgives our sins—and he also forgives the guilt of our sins. I think this is so important to understand, especially for someone like me who struggles with guilt and condemnation.
Because fully comprehending and accepting the immeasurable amount of grace I receive from Christ will hopefully get me one step closer to extending grace to others (instead of demanding justice).
Remind me each day how far the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:11-12)
Forgive my sins and also forgive the guilt of my sins. (Psalm 32:5)
Help me understand that I’m the indebted servant who was forgiven by the merciful king. But let me rewrite the ending and extend that same grace and mercy to those I encounter each day. (Matthew 18)
4 responses to “Extending Grace Part 3 – When I Need It Myself”
Great post. It’s amazing how similarly we process things. This week in study as we contemplated Savior, I kept hitting a mental wall. I just set the study aside and finally, the morning of the study, I prayed for God to reveal to me why I was having such a tough time with this name. The answer was that I need saving from myself. That I think I should be who the world tells me to be, not who he made me to be. I think I should get everything right, do everything right. And I am unwilling to give myself grace or mercy when I fail these impossible expectations.
My first thought about Savior is that it refers to something that’s already happened, so I wanted to see its practical application in my life. The Holy Spirit gave it to me – I need to be saved from myself every single day.
Thanks for this important reminder!
I bet when you wrote this a few years ago, you never imagined how it would bring healing to a broken heart a few years later. I have hung onto several of your words even writing some of them down in my journal. I could have written this article myself! I just want to say thank you and I hope this encourages you today. God bless you!
Laurie, thank you for leaving a comment! I just re-read the post since it’s been a few years 🙂 I am grateful that it was meaningful to you and I am praying that our God of grace lavishes you with His love and peace today. I am so glad His mercies are new every morning!! God bless you!