Don’t be in any rush to become a teacher, my friends. Teaching is highly responsible work. Teachers are held to the strictest standards. And none of us is perfectly qualified. We get it wrong nearly every time we open our mouths. If you could find someone whose speech was perfectly true, you’d have a perfect person, in perfect control of life. -James 3:1-2
I preface what I’m going to say with that verse. I know that I cannot possibly be correct in all that I say or do. I can only hope that I shed enough light and use enough scriptures so that you can glean what you can from my own journey and use some of it on yours.
You want to know how to accept grace and/or how to offer it. I have my own experience and it may be more thought through than most, so I’ll share it with you. Please, take my perspective for what it is. A single perspective. Most of the time I feel like I have a good seat in the arena of grace, but I haven’t sat in all of the seats.
For me and for most people I have had conversations with, their own failure has been the thing they thank God for the most. If you focus on the failure, it doesn’t make sense. However, we veterans of grace are looking at the spiritual aspect of what came out of it. Focusing on the sin is shortsighted. Sin is inevitable and grace completely thwarts the evil intentions involved.
I can thank God for my own failure because it destroyed me. It literally wrecked every aspect of who I was. It killed me.
“Listen carefully: Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground, dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat. But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.” – John 12:24
It freed me from my reputation of being ‘good’ and left me with nothing to lose. I hated my life and when I let that go, I found a different life that was not built on what people thought of me.
“Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” –John 12:25 NIV
I found life that has nothing to do with my track record or potential, but I’m able to be a part of it only because of grace.
My failure lined me up with scripture more literally than anything ‘good’ I could have done.
I thank God for my failure because I can see Him now. I can hear Him. I can be used by Him. It’s not about me and there is no longer any question about that.
Grace, as backward as it may seem, makes failure look like it was a part of this grand scheme we can only glimpse in moments. A grand scheme to form you into who you were designed to be all along.
Instead of looking at that as an excuse to sin, trust me, it looks so much like that, there are warnings all over the Bible against that selfish thought, look at it as a huge ‘middle finger to the very entity of evil.’ (A line from my book.)
“Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people. Easy now, you have nothing to fear.” -Genesis 50:20
Sin never gets the last word. Grace always wins.
People, good Christian people, were horrible to me when I fell. I was left alone and abandoned to a hopeless, graceless existence. It was the opposite of the message of the Gospel from people who spend their lives telling that Gospel to people by whom they haven’t, yet, been hurt. It’s a shortsighted, blind, and immature faith that causes a fellow Christian to give up on someone because their sin exceeded their personal limits on grace. I can name the wrongs like a rap sheet of a lifetime criminal, but to what purpose? Does comparison make me less sinful? In no way. My own failure is enough to fill an ocean of tears. Mine included.
My freedom is found in grace. Because of what I’ve been shown through my failure, I can thank God for the failures of my old friends. I’m not trying to be extra spiritual here. It took me a very long time to come to this. I can thank God for their failure with me because of where I am. If they did everything right, I would not have the seat, I so cherish, in this arena of grace.
When you are faced with your own failure or the failure of another, think about this: God has a plan that will be carried out with or without your approval or understanding. The end of the story, the part where we are as He intended, would not be possible without this part. God is acting from eternity, not from your ‘right now’. There will come a day when you will thank God for what you fear you may not live through. Grace makes that possible.
Grace is for sinners.