Last post, I addressed the issue of indulging in sin as a way to abuse God’s grace. I explained Titus 2:11-14 and the concept that grace, properly understood and applied, actually teaches us to deny sin and live godly lives. Grace has a way of self correcting. Today, I would like expand on this idea.
Pastor Judah Smith of Seattle’s The City Church shared a useful illustration along these lines in a recent interview with the Christian Post. In addressing a question about grace, Pastor Smith first talks about his relationship with his wife, Chelsea.
He summarizes, “Chelsea is just the most incredible, considerate, compassionate, loving, gracious spouse, she’s a lot like Jesus. In the 13 and a half years of her loving me and serving me and being so kind and committed, faithful and loyal, I’ve never had the thought ‘because she’s loving, gracious, kind and faithful, I could cheat on her and get away with. In fact, I could do it multiple times.’ I’ve never planned to cheat on her, by the grace of God I haven’t at all. Because the exact opposite desire and emotion are conjured up due to her love and grace and faithfulness.”
“I think when grace is merely a principle and a biblical concept – if it’s just the favor of God, or the forgiveness of God, or the love of God, it’s easily abused. But when grace is a person, when he has beautiful eyes of love and compassion and mercy and we fall in love with this incredible savior and his grace and his mercy pours over our lives, the ultimate result is not ‘Gosh, I can get away with sin.’ … quite the opposite happens really.”
This is such a clear illustration of the draw of grace and has been my experience also; not just in my marriage, but in my obedience to Christ as well. When I understand grace as a person – Jesus Christ – rather than a principle, I run to Jesus. I desire a close relationship with Jesus. I don’t want to sin more. I want to sin less. Why? Because I do not want to do anything that would harm the relationship. I don’t want to do anything that would cloud our connection.
I am talking about clouding the connection from my end. The connection itself will never go away. God is faithful. And His connection to us is secure. We cannot lose the connection because its fulfillment depends on His faithfulness, not our actions. God will never leave us. From my end, I want my love for Jesus to be deep and strong. And His grace draws us into that desire to love, not sends us on our way to unrighteous living.
Does this make sense to you? Has this been your experience? It may seem counter-intuitive. We can think of a few grace abusers we know. Or we may even secretly fall into temptation ourselves to take advantage of the grace of God. But it should not be that way. Instead, if we are in a love relationship with Christ – a relationship He secured at the cross – we should, based on that relationship, be running to Jesus. And we will be pleasing Jesus. We will be embracing all that Jesus has for our lives. And the last thing on our minds will be a desire to take advantage of His love.