Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
Let me begin by saying that our human nature does not comprehend or accept grace well. Growing up in church, I had the striving mentality rooted in me at a young age.
Do more. Serve more. Give more. Then you will be enough. Then you will be accepted.
These weren’t words directly spoken to me, but definitely an underlying attitude and atmosphere. I have struggled with striving my entire life.
If I just give this up, God will be able to use me. If I just fast this long, God will breakthrough.
The interesting WOW factor is this: God’s Word totally contradicts this mentality.
Hosea 6:6 – “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burt offerings.”
Ephesians 2:8 – “For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God.”
I have grown up memorizing these scriptures, telling them to other people, and truly believing it for other people. But, somehow I thought I was the exception. I had to work for it. I had to prove that I was worthy enough for God to speak to me, to love me, to accept me, etc.
Part of this thinking is straight from hell. Satan would love for us to spend our lives exhausting ourselves trying to earn God’s acceptance. He does a pretty great job too. Here we are, thousands of years after Christ died, and still struggling with it.
The other part, however, is people. I cannot give an accurate number for the amount of blogs, posts, and articles I see that say…
“Five steps to your breakthrough”
“Three steps to find your purpose”
“How to hear God’s voice”
“Six ways to answered prayers”
IT. IS. TOXIC.
Jesus is not a six step program. There are not certain levels we have to complete to have His acceptance. The sad part? This is coming from Christians. This is the type of mentality that has caused so much damage in my life. There is not one single verse in the Word of God that gives steps for approval, breakthrough, or to find purpose.
The “steps” we are told to be saved is …..
“If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Confess and believe. That’s it. Not some 12 step program for approval and love.
The beauty of God’s free love is this…grace is unmerited. It is by nothing we can do. The definition of the word grace is not– because we completed x amount of levels, prayed x amount of times, and gave x amount of money, only then we are forgiven.
Now, do not get me wrong… prayer, giving, letting go of things that aren’t pleasing to God- those are all things that come with being transformed. Those are the outcome of a new heart, a heart that wants to please God. Those are not requirements to be loved by God. They are not on a checklist for approval.
To give in to something means to surrender to it. To cease fighting, to yield. The overall idea of “giving in” seems negative, like defeat. I’m not sure why our human nature struggles to accept grace, especially since people love free things. Free food? Sign me up. Free facial? Yes, please.
But when it comes to grace, freely given to us, no checklist, it is hard. Because deep down, we know we are not worthy. We are know we don’t deserve unconditional love. We don’t deserve paradise with the Creator. It is hard to accept something SO incredibly great.
But, if we don’t…. we strive. We were not made to strive for God’s love. It is heavy. It is tiring, and is wears us down. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried to God saying, “If this is what it means to live for You, I can’t do it. I am exhausted.”
I say all of this for two reasons:
1. Church: STOP preaching a “do more” mentality to serve your own agenda. Stop telling people to give more so they can receive more. Stop telling people to volunteer more so God will bless them. Stop telling people what their purpose is so it serves the building.
Be better. Be the church. Be a safe place for the Spirit to dwell. Be a place for healing, worship, community, and fellowship. Be a refuge for the hurting, Be a place of giving, not taking. Be a place that points to God and encourages His children, even if it does not benefit your building.
2. Children of God: Give in. Surrender to grace. Know that you are not enough, and that is why Jesus filled in the gap. He made a way. We can’t do it. We cannot atone for our sins, our dirty. We cannot do enough steps in a million lifetimes to earn the approval of God. It is beautiful and completely beyond comprehension. So give in. Yield to forgiveness. Surrender to love. Know that you were intentionally made. Your name is known, and you do not have a checklist to complete for God to see you. He likes you.
I still have to ask God to take my striving mentality away. I daily ask for Him to give me peace in knowing His grace, and not anxiety in trying to earn it. That is part of being human though, right?
A daily need and reliance of Jesus, a daily surrender.
“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace from day to day as we need it.” – Dwight L. Moody
“Grace does not depend on what we have done for God, but rather what God has done for us. Ask people what they must do to get to Heaven, and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry “Help!”” – – Philip Yancy