Saturday, May 15, 2010

Is Grace Achieved or Birthed?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV).

Why do we strive for holiness as something we can achieve for ourselves? “I’m trying to be a good Christian,” I hear over and over again. We chisel our days to incorporate all the good spiritual habits that ought to bring us closer to God. We schedule our “hour with God” as if our time with Him was for His benefit. We live for God rather than live with God. I wonder if much of our spiritual effort is for our benefit, rather than God’s, that human need to be cognizant of all we sacrifice. Most often, I believe, that kind of sacrifice is not God ordered. We think we must shout our love in blood and tears in order for God to hear us. We carefully slice our finances to make certain God receives His tenth.

These spiritual habits, according to Oswald Chambers, are dangerous, for they come from our pride rather than a natural extension and evidence of God’s indwelling. I wonder if the operative word is “effort.” When we put forth effort, perhaps our motivation is to impress God, rather than respond to God. By effort, we become the doer rather than God.

Maybe holiness is something that is bred within us, an instinct that is generated by God alone rather than our spiritual habits. We do not study breathing in order to breathe. We simply breathe. If God has made us new creatures, as the Bible says, then He will do the work of changing us. As He is the seed, He is also the caretaker of the seed He has planted. He will cultivate, and He will harvest.

I wonder if by working at goodness, we pull against the easy yoke God has placed upon us.

Does that mean we should not read God’s word or pray or study? Does that mean we should not feed the hungry, give offerings to His storehouse?

Of course not.

Perhaps it means that our seeking after the things of God falls hort if we do so to achieve Grace. Rather these things are a response to the Grace we have already received.

What do you think? Ponder me back.

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