in the last post, i talked about how grace is “the divine power and ability given by our loving God to achieve a certain task”. i also mentioned that God not only gives us mercy (freedom from the punishment of sin) but also gives us grace (freedom from sin itself). but what does this look like? i had an experience the other day that was a great example of grace:
the other day i was driving down the road and got a flat tire. i pulled off the road and pulled out my spare tire and star wrench. i tried to unscrew the flat tire but the lug nuts were rusted on. i tried with all my strength to loosen them, but it was no use. so i decided to call the florida highway patrol to see if they would help me. they were great and sent an officer out right away.
when the officer got there, he pulled out his MUCH bigger star wrench. he got down by my tire and with a little effort got the four lug nuts loosened. THEN he stood back up and told me that i could do the rest and he would watch me. at first i was a little offended (normally when officers help, they do it all for you…lol) but then i realized he did what i couldn’t do (loosen the lug nuts) and now i could do the rest and change the tire myself. he was giving me a way to not feel ashamed in calling for help cause i couldn’t change my tire (not due to lack of knowledge).
while i was changing my tire, he stood out in the road making sure no one ran me over. he also started giving me humble pointers on how i could do the job quicker and better. several times he was concerned that i did not do it the best way and wanted me to check. he stayed there until the job was done and then helped me clean up (i had become quite dirty in the process).
i think this story highlights several things that grace does:
- grace loosens issues
many times the issues in our lives are so deeply rooted that they refuse to budge no matter what we do. we seem to do everything possible. we pray, fast, worship, read the Bible and yet nothing changes. but when we cry out to God for help, He works situations and stretches out His hand to help free us from the deeply embedded sins in our lives. it’s like our sin is a ball and chain that we can do nothing about, but then God comes and unlocks the chains, giving us the choice and chance to walk out of the chains that have bound us for years.
- grace has and uses the right tools for the job
like i stated in the last point, God knows what it will take to loosen our chains. He orchestrates events in our lives to bring even hidden things to the surface. grace is a refining process. when gold is put into a furnace, all the deeply embedded and hidden impurities come to the surface where then they can be skimmed off. in the same way, it is grace that allows and controls the fire to bring issues up from hiddenness and allows us (by help of the Holy Spirit) to skim them off and out of our lives.
- grace refuses to let us do nothing
grace is a partnership. when it comes to deliverance and freedom, grace does not do the whole work for us. there are things that grace requires from us. it commands follow through. it calls for choices to be made. this is the love of God in action. God understands that we will better keep our freedom and appreciate it more if something is required from us. the saying “what is received too easily is esteemed too lightly” is true. God also uses these times of “partnership” to teach us and mature us into the image of Jesus. maturing is a process and partnership.
- grace protects us in our weaknesses
even in our weaknesses, God is still there. it is grace that stands between us and evil to protect us. in fact, even when there seems to be an abundance of evil, the Bible says that grace is even more abounding. there are times that we are stuck for a time on the side of the road (of life) while God deals with some of our issues and inner struggles, but during this time while He speaks to us, He also protects us from being totally destroyed or “run-over” by the rampant evil in our lives and of this world. He makes sure that there is no reason to fear these times of “fixing” (deliverance) in our lives. God states in the Bible that “He is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one”.
- grace shows us a “better way”
i had a very significant dream recently and after i woke up from this dream i felt good. for one of the first times in my life, i felt like i got a “b” on a test. i felt God was saying “good job. you can do better (you’re not an “a” in this area yet)…but you aren’t failing. you’re making progress and i’m proud of you”.
as we are partnering with God to correct the issues in our lives, He is constantly showing us “better ways” to deal with the issue. i remember i was having a problem with tithing a while ago. i use my bank card a lot and my church doesn’t have a machine or a way to pay tithes online. i used to pay my tithe by withdrawing the cash i needed when i deposited my paycheck. the problem was that i kept forgetting to do that. i finally started praying that God would help me remember. that’s when He spoke to me and said “why don’t you keep your check book in your car and write your tithe as a check every week?”. every since, that’s what i have done. that very simple revelation/insight was God’s grace...it gave me the knowledge on how to accomplish that which He called me to do (in this case, tithing).
- grace warns us about future problems
i had a warning dream about my “possible future” about a year ago. when i awoke and talked to God about it, He told me “matt, the events and future you saw is a trap that was set a long time ago. if something does not change now…this can and will happen.”
as we (and God) are correcting the issues in our lives, grace comes to warn us. it instructs us to do the job completely and as best as it can be done. many times in life we seem to get “short-term freedom”. this is not God’s desire. most of the time when this happens, it is simply because we stopped too early in regards to fixing the problem. like in my example, the officer made me make sure (several times) that i had the tire screwed on tight enough. the officer told me “there would be few things worse than to fix your flat, drive down the road and have your whole wheel come off”. i think what he said sums up what happens to us spiritually all the time. we change the “tire” but never make sure we “fixed the wheel”. grace and the Spirit of God are there to make sure that we don’t “drive off” and become “worse off”.
- grace cleans and refreshes us
whether you are in the middle of fixing an issue in your life or you just came out of one of those times, there’s nothing like getting clean and refreshed. this is a very important role of grace and the Holy Spirit.
after i changed my tire, i was quite filthy. the fhp officer helped me clean up. i know many people who have warred and taken care of issues in their lives, but they still walk around dirty…feeling shamed and sinful. grace washes our hands of all the evil we have just warred with and makes our conscience clean. for some, the “breakdown” season has been a very dry time in their lives. God also gives us grace to refresh us. He cleans us up and puts us back in our “car” (life) and propels us forward.
in the next post, i will be talking about how a correct view of grace affects our view of salvation.
what other things does grace do for us in regards to personal freedom?