"And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast" (Ephesians 2:6-9 NIV).
Once we have experienced grace, everything changes! We change. Our lives change. " However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace" (Act.20:244 NIV).
Life becomes infinitely easier and at the same time infinitely more difficult! Grace tells us we are saved, redeemed, guaranteed heaven. Grace also, though, holds us to a higher standard! Once we accept God's grace, we are called to live a life without sin. Of course God knows we are not perfect--except through and because of His grace!
"[Humble Service in the Body of Christ] For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you" (Romans 12:3 NIV).
Grace-filled believers humble themselves - placing others and their needs above themselves and their own needs. Grace compels us to stop, think, breathe before we speak or act. 'What would Jesus do?' becomes more than just a slogan, it becomes a hallmark and a beacon for how to live.
"[Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ] What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?" (Romans 6:1 NIV)
Grace compels us to stop sinning. Beseeches us not to conform to society (to be in and not of the world). Grace bids us to be silent when our words will hurt - or add to the godless noise of the world. Grace urges us to speak up and speak out even when ours may be the only voice heard on behalf of another. Grace expects us to never stop hoping, never stop believing, never doubt its power.
Grace can crush us with the burden of being so unworthy and yet so valued and loved by a God who is not blind to our sin rather who sees above and beyond it. He sees us in our perfect state, and even though we will never be able to achieve perfection - we are perfect in His eyes - because we are His.
A lump of coal becomes a diamond by being crushed and refined and perfected. I thank God that He love us enough to crush and refine and perfect us through and because of His grace.
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).
Blessings on your journey,