Grace - Part 2

Baker_13The last time I was asked to write one of these articles I wrote about grace. God has been using the last year to show me that even though I am starting to conceptually understand the meaning of grace, I still struggle with practically accepting it.

During our time in Salt Lake City, I heard a sermon illustration about a Jewish Rabbi that the pastor had interacted with in Chaplaincy school. This Rabbi was very giving, but he refused to receive a gift. When the pastor confronted him on this matter, he told the Rabbi that he did not believe the Rabbi understood the meaning of grace – receiving a gift that is unearned and undeserved. When the Rabbi heard this definition, he said “No, that is not grace. That is the Bread of Shame.” In Jewish tradition one who takes something he has not earned, or something he does not give back in proportion to what he has received, would be guilty of eating the Bread of Shame.

Over the next week I had some situations come up where I needed help, but I did not want to ask for it, and I certainly did not want anyone to know I needed help. I viewed these things as my responsibility; I did not want to burden anyone else with them. My pride wanted to maintain an appearance that I had it all together and did not need help with such a simple thing. As this problem began to come out, I got angry that it was becoming visible, and I was fearful about being honest. I wanted to hide. As I began to see these responses, the story of the Rabbi came back to my mind. I did not understand grace; I viewed help from anywhere else as shameful.

As God began to work this in my heart, he allowed me to have multiple conversations with people about God’s grace. In my conversations I came across a story about a family who has a little boy who is just learning to communicate. This boy has a favorite train that frequently breaks. Whenever it would break this boy would try to fix it, fail, and get frustrated. Recently this boy has learned that if he just holds up the broken pieces and says “Uh, oh” his mom will come and fix it.

How often am I that little boy? I see the problems in my life and I desire to fix them myself. After multiple failed attempts to fix my problems, I get frustrated and must resign myself to the fact it is impossible and I am stuck here. Really, all God desires is for me to humble myself, admit I have a problem, and ask for his help.

In the moment I acknowledge my sin and my weakness and I ask God for his help, that moment of sin has been transformed into a means of fellowship with God. By admitting I cannot do it and that I need His help and His grace, He now is the one who gets the glory for the change in my life.

When James 4 speaks of sanctifying change in the life of the believer, James lists multiple sins that were evident in that body of believers. However, James does not tell them to simply stop it or to work harder to fix those problems, but rather he says, “But He giveth more grace. Therefore it says, ‘God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.’ … Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you…Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.” (James 4:6 , 8a, 10). As a Christian I feel like I need to be able to make it through a day and not need God’s grace. In reality, as a Christian, I cannot live a day apart from the grace of God.

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