The Grace That Changes Us
Now, 57 years into my life, the grace of God is so incredibly and increasingly dear to me. Many years ago, I was in Student Ministry and was studying holiness and grace for a study I was doing with my students. I remember, as I dove into the Word of God, this specific truth being whispered to my heart:
“Sharon, My holiness will never compromise My grace, and My grace will never compromise My holiness…there is a perfect tension between the two…”
Holiness without grace becomes legalism. Grace without holiness becomes this sloppy place where lives are not called upward to become more like Jesus. And so, a seed was planted in my heart, to live a life marked by His amazing grace, a grace that changes us!
Legalism: “Usually a pejorative term referring to an over-emphasis on discipline of conduct, or legal ideas, usually implying an allegation of misguided rigor, pride, superficiality, the neglect of mercy, and ignorance of the grace of God or emphasizing the letter of law over the spirit.”
Great definition! But, (and here is where this little devotional was born)…it seems to me that there is a bit of a movement these days, that is redefining legalism as well as redefining grace.
- If you call sin, “sin”, you are labeled legalistic.
- If you believe that knowing Jesus should make us live our lives differently, you are labeled legalistic.
- If in your discipleship relationships as you encourage those younger in their faith that the whole counsel of the Word of God is to be held up as the standard for our lives…then that is called “legalism”.
This shift makes my heart ache.
Grace: And then there is GRACE. It is not a weak word. Grace carries strength at its core!
Grace is “love that stoops”, so clearly seen in the manger when Jesus took off His royal robes and came to this earth over 2000 years ago. Strength!
It is that unmerited favor that we have heard so much about, that is such a precious treasure. It is that LOVE that doesn’t look “past” my sin but looks straight at my heart, with all its failings and weaknesses and with eyes wide open calls me His daughter because of what Jesus did on the cross at Calvary! Strength!
How Grace Changes Us
When the grace of Almighty GOD explodes on a scene it brings with it, light, life, strength, holiness, and change.
I am so mindful that the GRACE of God is a beautiful and amazing aspect of His character. But I am also mindful that my God is the KING! He is The LORD, and in His Kingdom, as in any kingdom, there is rule and reign, there is submission to His leadership and lordship, and submission to the laws of the land (His Word).
I am also mindful that when Jesus died that agonizing death on the cross. Those endless hours where He suffered and died for my sins, He did NOT just do that to create in me a “cleaned up version of myself” (legalism). He didn’t suffer that pain and shame so that I could be a “really hip believer and make Him look cool to a lost world”.
…He did it, because I was DEAD in my sin…
…He did it to call my dead heart to life…
…He did it because there was a price that I could never in ANY way pay, a price required by a Holy God for my sin.
And when He called me from death into life, when that resurrection life that exploded the stone from the tomb entered into my heart, I should now be different – a new creation. And I should desire to flee from sin -that stuff that so easily entangles and clouds and destroys. I should read the Scriptures that say “Be holy as I am holy…” “I am the LORD Who made you holy…” and rejoice in my heart that positionally, because of the righteousness of Christ, I am holy – because His grace covers me. It should make me hunger for the beauty of His sanctifying work in my life.
I want His grace to change my heart. But we must recognize that a changed heart will result in changed behavior and that is NOT legalistic to say out loud. It is TRUTH…and I am so thankful for it.
Change My Heart
My heart’s cry for years has been, “Change my heart!”
I pray that one year from now, 5 years from now, 10 years from now, those who know me will be able to say, “She is different. She is more like Jesus. She is more gracious, more loving, more broken, more humble, more bold…”
So what could it look like to have a life that is constantly being changed by his grace? I decided to prayerfully write out a plumb line for my heart, as I seek a life continually changed by His grace.
A life invaded by His grace will have an authentic faith in Jesus. I desire that what people see in public is what they would see if they could peer into the private places of my life.
A life invaded by His grace will be “hemmed in” by the cross. I desire that the cross would be ever before me, and ever behind me. The cross is so much more than just a starting place, I want it to cast its shadow through my entire life.
A life invaded by His grace will be a life of integrity. I desire that even in the places of my heart that no one else might see, I will stand and not waver, even if in doing that, I must make choices and take stands that cause others to misunderstand.
A life invaded by His grace will cause those who know me best to be able to say… “Yes, she has her flaws, but she presses on, and when she falls, she repents, and she gets back up…”
A life invaded by His grace will be a heart that daily stays aware of the truth that I am small and finite, and that my story is so incredibly secondary to that great, eternal, holy and sovereign story…the GREAT story of our God.
A life invaded by His grace will be fixed on making certain that, “His name and renown” are utmost in each endeavor taken up, in the seasons of life that He has entrusted to me.
A life invaded by His grace will be a safe place for hurting hearts. I desire to love others and hold their hearts with great care and dignity while pointing their hearts in His direction.
A life invaded by His grace will be characterized by joy. “Laughter does good like a medicine” and I would love to be a faithful dispenser of that joyful remedy.
A life invaded by His grace will be a life where the hope that resides in my heart, would be evident on my face. That my countenance would be one that reflects His gracious peace, even during life’s storms.
A life invaded by His grace will walk through each day in a way that does not dishonor His Name. I want to finish strong, to finish well, that as I grow older, I also grow deeper in my walk with Him…that the fire in my heart would burn brighter, even as this outer shell grows weaker.
I want to walk in Psalm 45:1 …”My heart is stirred by a noble theme…” so grateful that JESUS gives my heart a noble theme, a heart changed by His great grace.
Sharon Sands is the Founder and Executive Director of Passionate Heart Ministries. Passionate Heart Ministries exists to encourage and strengthen women on the front lines of ministry: pastor’s wives, women’s ministry leaders, MOPS leaders, worship leaders, mothers, and more. In addition to this, Passionate Heart Ministries hosts conferences, bible studies, and seminars for women in the Denver area.