Theologically speaking, grace is God’s righteousness at Christ’s expense. It is what is given to us on account of our faith. It is what is needed for salvation. And absolutely everyone needs grace because we’re all sinners.
More generically though, grace is unmerited favor. Grace is something that is given to us that we didn’t earn and can’t possibly repay. We need grace for salvation but God’s grace doesn’t stop at just salvation. And that is my focus for this year. I need more grace in my life.
Taking a cue from a friend who placed a theme on upcoming years, last year I declared it to be a year of Jubilee. This didn’t turn out anything like I expected but God was still praised and celebrated in 2013 as I wrote about in my previous post.
The reason I decided on making 2014 a year of grace is because I could really use some unmerited favor. Now, this may just sound like I want to rub a genie’s lamp and expect to have some wishes granted. That would be great but it obviously isn’t happening nor would I want it to be so.
Instead, I want grace because more and more I’m beginning to realize that I have little control over what goes on in life. Certainly there are aspects that I can control. With regards to my health I can eat properly and exercise regularly. But that isn’t a guarantee that I will be healthy. With regard to my finances, I can work diligently at my job and wisely save and invest my money. But that isn’t a guarantee that my job will remain or that my investments won’t crash in the stock market.
There is just so much of life that I have no control over. And just maybe, the things that I do have control over I obsess about too much. The more difficult life gets, the greater our tendency becomes to control what little we have control over. Rather than hand things over to God, we claw and scrape and try to hold onto the last things that we do have control of.
And that’s why I need grace and that’s what I’m asking for in particular this year. I’ve been working too hard to make things happen on my own. Some people rely on themselves because of a lack of faith in God. I don’t feel like that’s the case with me. But instead, my feeling is that often we ask God to do things for us and His response is “I’ve given you all the tools you need to accomplish this already.” And then people get upset at God because they continue to do nothing and blame God for not answering their prayer.
But I’m on the other end of that. Yes, I’ve prayed but I’ve continued to work as hard as I can to make things happen. My work hasn’t accomplished what I hoped for. I need grace. It’s not that I deserve what I want in life. It’s not that it’s owed to me because I’ve worked so hard for it.
Once I finally reach the point of saying “God I can’t do this” and completely handing it over to Him, all I can do is rely on His grace. Because God doesn’t owe me anything. My faithfulness to God does not warrant that I get what I want from Him. My past struggles do not mean that God needs to right the balance sheet now in order to be fair. All I can say is that I don’t deserve what I’m asking for but I can’t do it myself and I need the Lord to make it possible.
So that’s my theme for this year. I need unmerited favor. I don’t deserve it and I certainly don’t deserve it more than anyone else. That’s the point of being unmerited. All I can do is ask and expect God to provide. And in the meantime, I need to stop trying to do God’s job for Him and allow Him to work.