It’s a new year, and many of us have new goals. Reading the Bible in a year. Losing weight. Getting Organized.
If you’re anything like me, you start off with a bang. But you end the year with a fizzle.
For me, at least, it comes down to perfectionism. If I do something, I want to do it right.
And when I can’t be perfect, I give up.
The problem? I’m not perfect, so I do a lot of giving up.
Can you relate?
Ladies, it’s time to give ourselves some grace.
Grace Throughout the Bible
As I’ve been reading through the Bible this week, I’ve been noticing all the times God gives his people grace. In fact, the instances of grace have stood out so clearly to me, I’ve begun marking them in the margins of my Bible.
I’m only eleven chapters in to Genesis, and so far I’ve noticed a lot of grace.
God gave Adam a wife when he was alone. (Genesis 2:18)
God clothed Adam and Eve after they sinned and realized they were naked. (Genesis 3:21)
God provided hope of the coming of Jesus when he gave Adam and Eve the consequence for their sin. (Genesis 3:15 and Romans 16:20)
God protected Cain, even after he had killed his brother. (Genesis 4:15)
God saved Noah and his family when he destroyed the rest of the earth with a flood. (Genesis 6:17-18)
That’s a lot of grace!
Grace: the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
Of course the biggest manifestation of God’s grace is the salvation of his people through Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection three days later. And none of us deserved that amazing grace.
But God loves us enough to give it to us anyway.
Let that sink in.
Do You Give Yourself Grace?
I don’t know about you, but I’m my own worst critic. I try so hard to be perfect, and I fail every time.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with trying to improve yourself. In fact, as Christians, we need to put in the effort to live godly lives. We should want to put in the effort to live godly lives in thanksgiving to what God has done for us.
But we’re never going to be perfect.
I’ve set out to read the Bible in a single year many times. Many years I didn’t complete the challenge at all. And the years I did, I didn’t read every day, and I needed to play catch-up from time to time.
I’ve determined to improve my prayer life by making a prayer journal and setting aside time to pray every day. Sometimes I’m good about following through. Other times my prayer journal gets neglected.
You probably have areas of your life that look much the same. You desire to do better. And there are days when you DO do better. But there are also days you don’t.
Give yourself grace.
If God, who is the only one perfect among us, considers you worthy of grace, shouldn’t you give grace to yourself?
The Freedom Grace Provides
The beauty of grace is that it frees us to make mistakes. It frees us to accept that we are sinners. And most of all it frees us to fully appreciate the gift God has given us in salvation.
Grace frees us from striving for an unattainable goal: being perfect.
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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
When we fully appreciate grace, we can stop striving. We can stop striving to read our Bibles every day, to conquer our entire prayer list, to obtain the status of “perfect Christian.”
That’s not to say we shouldn’t be reading our Bibles regularly, praying more, and working on those areas of our lives that need work the most.
But the full appreciation of grace means we grow as Christians through thanksgiving for what God has done for us, rather than trying to improve ourselves with our own efforts.
Let me give you an example.
I can strive to be a better wife by determining that each day that I will make my husband’s favorite food, wash all his clothes, greet him at the front door with a kiss, and watch his favorite TV shows with him.
Those are all good things. But if I’m only doing them because I want to be a better wife and not out of a love for my husband, that list of actions is going to be hard to keep up!
But if my husband is a fabulous husband who really shows his love for me every day, doing the things that make me a better wife is easy. I love him and I want to be a great wife for him! I will never be a perfect wife, but growing as a wife is easier when I have a husband who loves me well.
And So it Goes with Christ
The husband/wife example is imperfect, because none of us have perfect husbands who love us well all the time. (And truthfully, we wives don’t love our husbands perfectly all the time either.) But you get the picture.
The thing is, God does love us well all the time. He loved us so much he gave his only son, Jesus. For you. For me.Do you give yourself enough grace?Click To Tweet
Throughout history he has shown us grace as we mess up time and time again. He knows we can’t be perfect, and he gave us Jesus to pay the price for our own sinfulness.
And even though the relationship is unequal – we can never live up to God’s standards on our own – he still loves us immensely. And grace makes that possible.
When we realize the enormity of that fact, suddenly growth as a Christian isn’t so hard.
We want to spend time in the word to grow closer to Jesus, who gave everything for us.
We want to spend time in prayer, because we realize that God delights in us and wants us to converse with him.
We want to grow, not out of our own efforts, but out of gratefulness for the gift of grace we have been given.
We still must do. We must open our Bibles and bow our heads for prayer. But we are no longer doing these things out of obligation. We are doing these things as a worshipful reaction to what we have been given.
So I’ll ask one more time. Do you appreciate grace? Do you give yourself grace?
If you struggle with giving yourself grace, open the Bible. There are stories of grace throughout. Let that sink in. And then move forward in thanksgiving.
Are you ready? Let’s live this year in grace!
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