Growing in grace is harder than it looks.
One of the most mind boggling, and faith growing times in my life was when I studied the lives of the Kings in the Old Testament. It fascinated me beyond measure to look at their influence of power, their choices, their success, their downfall, and then to see what their children (the heirs to their throne) did in their foot steps.
It caused me to want to learn about learning, to assess my life choices and and consider their impact on my life and my children. As I did this, I came to the quick realization that I despereatley needed to grow in both grace and forgiveness. There was no way to really grow stronger on the inside, if I harbored bitterness, anger, sorrow, loneliness or resentment. These things would stunt my growth.
I read these two passages and it hit me like a ton of bricks!
2 Chronicles 33:12 ESV
“When he (the evil king Manasseh) was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers, and he prayed to Him”
Psalm 103: 8-11 ESV
“The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His loving kindness toward those who fear Him.”
THIS is where I whip out a colored pen or highlighter and mark up my Bible. The king “humbled himself greatly before God”. Not just asked, or prayed or thought about what he needed to change in his life. No. He humbled himself GREATLY.
Then, with bright pink pen in hand, I underlined “abounding in lovingkindness”, and after that I circled “abounding”. Thats a huge word when we think about it. Chewing on this…. do I “abound” in anything in my life? Finally, marking again, “not keeping anger forever” and “not dealt with us according to our sins”. This is what my heart wants to do at times. THIS is why I lack grace and forgiveness. I want it to be dealt with. I want justice. I want the other person to feel bad and make a change. Just to be honest. That’s where my emotions are at times.
So then, how do we grow in grace?
First, we must truly humble ourselves. It’s a serious time of self examination and honesty before God.
What do you need to be honest with yourself and God about? Where do you know you need to change? Like King Manasseh, we all have things that need to change in our lives. List some things you know you need to change, that you need to be honest with God about and ask for His help.
Second, if we want to grow in grace, if we want to abound in grace in our lives, then we have to start looking at things differently. If God doesn’t hold onto anger and emotions, and if God doesn’t deal with us “according to our sins”, then what should our response be to others in our life?
Take a few moments to really think about this.
With what area or with what person do you need to be more gracious? Where do you know you need to grow in grace? Regardless of the situation, we must challenge ourselves to let go of emotional responses and pursue to be abounding in grace and lovingkindness. Which leads us to contemplate, must I offer a gift of forgiveness to others not just for them, but also for myself? Forgiveness is hard when we are hurt, but God doesn’t deal with grace or forgiveness according to the measure of our sins, but the measure of His lovingkindness.
Grab your journal and list either the people or situations that you would like to push yourself to pursue more grace with. Where do you want to abound in grace?
Make this list your daily goal.
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