How to have the best life you could never deserve
Being conscious of what’s fair may be good when it comes to observing social etiquette, but it can be a barrier when it comes to understanding the key to a relationship with God: God’s grace.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.”
— Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)
Grace: The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. G-God’s, R-riches, A-at, C-Christ’s, E-Expense.
1. One of the greatest reasons for hope today is that God doesn’t give us what we deserve.
“He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west (the sunrise is from the sunset) so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
— Psalms 103:10-12 (NIV)
2. Grace is the understanding that God relates to us not based on our attainment, but Christ’s atonement.
To grasp grace, we have to have a shift in our mindset because a religious mindset has taught us that approval with God is something we gain by our merit and our penance. Jesus turned this way of thinking upside down. Jesus revealed over and over that God’s love is not fair!
1. Jesus didn’t come to give us a new religion; He came to replace religion with grace.
2. To grasp grace, we have to shift from an “I can deserve this and earn this,” to “I don’t deserve this, but Jesus earned if for me” mindset. He wants us to go from prideful or fearful to grateful, humble, and unstoppable. He wants us to experience the best life we could never deserve.
Reasons why grace is so important to grasp
Realizing, receiving, and applying grace is the key to living a life of favor. Many who’ve received God’s forgiveness don’t go on to grasp what it means to live a life of favor.
“…how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!”
— Romans 5:17b (NIV)
1. It’s not just having grace; it is how we appropriate it and apply it to every area of our lives that causes us to live a life of favor for ourselves and others.
2. God wants us to determine that we will allow everything Christ did for us, change everything in us and all that we can be!
Grace produces change
When we understand grace, we change not by behavior modification but by heart transformation. God changes us not by the duty of effort, but by the beauty of grace.
“Grace is the kiss of Beauty that changes the Beast into a Prince.” — Tim Keller
1. Grace changes us not by challenging our ability but by changing our identity.
“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them-yet, not I but the grace of God that was with me.”
— I Corinthians 15:10 (NIV)
2. The more I understand grace, the more I serve God because I want to, not because I have to.
C. Grace empowers me to ask, expect, and receive great things not based on my merit but on what Christ earned for me.
Christ has made us the beneficiaries of all that He deserves and died for us to have.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
— John 14:13 (NIV)
Grace frees me from condemnation and guilt, as well as the feeling that myself or others have to be judged for our sins.
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
— Romans 8:1 (NIV)
Grace removes walls of separation because there is no longer a basis for us to judge or feel superior to others because of my works or position.
Ways we can make the switch from a guilt and works mindset to a grace and favor mindset.
(Lk 18:9-14 NIV)
Humble yourself and come before God based on what you owe not what you deserve. Realize that it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, you can come before God on the basis of what Jesus did and be completely forgiven and changed. Grace and salvation are the result of a change in our inward belief in what makes us righteous.
The more humbled we become the more empowered we will be.
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
— Luke 18:14b (NIV)
Recognize and forsake the self-righteousness that tries to raise its ugly head in all of us. Living in grace is to let Jesus put to death the “pharisee” in all of us. We need to continue to bring to the light the tendencies to judge, to deny, to compare, to compete or want to take pride in our righteousness.
“Enormous poison comes into my heart and into the culture of the world if I exclude my enemy from the community of humans and exclude myself from the community of sinners.” — Miroslav Volf
Let God’s grace turn you from the temptation to look down on others to demonstrating the grace that includes others and feels an obligation of love to forgive and serve others with the love I’ve received.
An “I deserve it” mindset will make us critical and disdainful of others, especially if they’ve wronged us. An “I don’t deserve it mindset” will give us a sense of indebtedness to God on behalf of others and the grace to extend mercy to even the most offensive.
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
— Galatians 5:13-14 (NIV)
“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.”
— Romans 1:14-15 (NKJV)
The ethic of Christianity is love; the motivation is gratitude. God’s love is awakened in us by the revelation of grace. As it is awakened, it is our privilege not to bask in our fortune but to be moved to bring others alive by sharing and showing them this amazing grace, we’ve received. Hearts everywhere are ready to be awakened.
“Down in the human heart, Crushed by the tempter, Feelings lie buried that grace can restore. Touched by a loving heart, wakened by kindness, chords that were broken will vibrate once more.” – John G. Lake.