I’m sure that you have heard of the Amish practice of shunning people. The concept is that if an individual within their close knit community breaks one or more of their most tightly held beliefs, they are shunned. Members in good standing “isolate, ignore, or otherwise punish someone for breaking community rules.” When someone is shunned, the community does not eat with, do business with, accept gifts or rides from the shunned individual. It is an isolation meant to force the deviant person to see the error of their ways and re commit to the Amish ways, and beliefs.
This practice sounds like the exact opposite of grace.
Grace is defined as receiving something you do not deserve. Like God’s unconditional love and salvation.
The grace of God is a concept that most modern religions do not recognize. In religion, one must do good works, pay penance to God, or work to achieve a higher version of one’s self through reincarnation. A person must try hard to become enlightened or ascend somehow in their spirituality to receive the favor of God. These ideas are not biblical. If you and I could do it ourselves, then tell me what the cross was for? Galatians 2:21 tells us that we cannot attain righteousness in our flesh “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, (always doing only right things) Christ died for nothing!” But Jesus did not die for nothing, He came that we may have life in Him!
So the grace of God is an unearned gift!
The undeserved grace of God is a tremendous thing! Ephesians 2:8-9 in the NLT says it like this “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Do you see it? None of us receive the love of God because of what we have done! We receive it because of who HE is.
It seems a natural thing to try to win God’s love or approval. But I want you to consider something that maybe you haven’t before. If you have accepted the free gift of salvation that Jesus offered to us when He gave His life on the cross of Calvary, then sister, you already have God’s complete and unconditional love! You can stop chasing grace…it is already yours!
The truth is, you and I could never be “good enough” to deserve God’s love. We can never do “more good than bad”. We can never ascend to a place of holiness on our own, that would cause God to say that we have earned our way in. Honestly, trying to earn it is what causes us to stray from His love in the first place. “Earning grace” looks like rules. It looks like legalism. It surfaces as the false belief that if I just follow all the rules, never slip up, do all the right things, that God will see me as worthy. But only if…
If we think that somehow, we need to earn His grace, then we don’t really understand the concept of grace. Grace is love freely given, undeserved.
The moment we start trying to earn it, grace loses its power. When we earn something like our paycheck or an award, it always comes as a result of our efforts. A payment or reward for something worked for and earned.
However, when I understand that grace has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him, I can rest in the peace and assurance that I don’t need to earn it, just let it flow over me like cool water on a hot day. Soothing my soul and providing comfort and assurance, love and peace, hope and joy.
The result of receiving the love and grace of God, is what spurs us on to demonstrate our love back to Him, by following what He says in His word. The kindness I receive from God through grace causes me to want to love and follow Him even more. God’s kindness is meant to lead us to repentance, Romans 2:4 speaks to that. Here’s what I am trying to say in a nutshell, we do not love and follow God so that He will love us, we love and follow God because He already does!
A favorite song of mine right now is Holy Water by We The Kingdom. This song is one for the books! I never get tired of hearing it. There is a line in the song that goes like this;
“I don’t wanna abuse Your grace,
God, I need it every day,
It’s the only thing that ever really makes me wanna change”.
It’s the kindness and grace of God that makes me want to change as a person. It’s His grace that draws me into relationship with Him. Grace leads me home. The grace of God beckons me into His loving presence in a way that fear, and the Amish practice of shunning, never would. Those things only serve to cause me to want to please people, to do the things needed for acceptance. But they don’t really change the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7 tells us what God cares most about. “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” He looks at our inner most desires (pleasing people or pleasing Him) and He sees our motives.
I hope that you’ll let this sink in. That you’ll stop chasing grace. That, instead, you will turn and see that what you have been seeking, is already yours.
Grace changes everything!