September 25, 2010

But he gives more grace

"Beware of living according to your natural affections in your spiritual life. Everyone has natural affections— some people we like and others we don’t like... The example our Lord gave us here is not that of a good person, or even of a good Christian, but of God Himself... In other words, simply show to the other person what God has shown to you... Being a disciple means deliberately identifying yourself with God’s interests in other people. Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). The true expression of Christian character is not in good-doing, but in God-likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit divine characteristics in your life, not just good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian’s life is that the supernatural becomes natural in him as a result of the grace of God, and the experience of this becomes evident in the practical, everyday details of life, not in times of intimate fellowship with God..."
(Taken from My Utmost for His Highest, September 20).

I have heard these same words hundreds of different times, through various different messages, studies and in my own time with the Lord. But somehow, when I read this on Monday, I felt so ridiculous. So very, very futile in my thinking. Christ has called me to love others, to recognizing His interests in others. That is, he came, he lived, he served, he died and resurrected to his glory. Not that I would keep this for myself, not that I would dare choose who is worthy to hear the gospel or receive his love, but that he would be glorified to others. If I consider myself his follower, I cannot make exceptions, or give myself permission to withhold love or grace from anyone. Also, in these past few weeks, I've found myself living out Romans 6 & 7. This came to a head when I read the words "God's life in us expresses itself as God's life, not as human life trying to be godly." I don't know exactly why these words jumped off the page, but it was as if I had completely forgotten them. It's God's grace that works in me to produce "his life" in me, rather than my own. God's life in me can't be covered up by my running around trying to be godly. And, oh, how I've found myself in the midst of this battle. The very thing I don't want to do- sin, by trying to appear godly- is the very thing I do. It's as if I forgot about dying to self each day and let my own selfish, sinful feeble attempts to appear godly win.

Thank goodness that he is greater. Thank goodness for his discipline that guides me back to his work in me, his grace. I can't do anything in my own power, and the only person I am fooling with my facade of Christ-likeness is myself. I am so glad he disciplines those he loves and that I can claim him as Lord. This reminded me of these piercing words in James, "Therefore, whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, "He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us?" But he gives more grace..." I am so thankful to serve an ever-gracious God who relentlessly humbles me and reminds me of his cross. It is a struggle each day to live in his power rather than relish in my weak humanness that seems so appealing and normal to others. I was not redeemed for this. "But he gives more grace!"

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