Grace. The word itself is a cleansing rain, a soothing balm, a warming oil. Sometimes we are most reluctant to extend grace to ourselves. Are you in need of grace today? If so, may these reminders be chicken soup for your soul.
1 — God’s standard is the only one that matters.
Most of the things that our culture says are important are not important to God. God wants you to love and obey him. God is the one we’re working for:
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
Don’t let others’ expectations of you, your perception of others’ expectations of you, or your own expectations bog you down. What does God say? Do that.
2 — God always forgives when we ask.
If it’s sin you’re worried about, remember that God never stops forgiving His children who are in Christ. Even if you’ve already asked forgiveness for the same thing 490 times. God’s mercy and forgiveness are limitless. John reminds us that:
If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
— 1 John 1:7-9
Psalm 103:8-12 says:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
Now that right there is grace.
3 — You are not a superhero.
In our technology-saturated world, it’s easy to see what everyone else is doing and get down on ourselves because we can’t do all the things. Or we try to do it all, and we just end up exhausting ourselves and damaging our relationships with God and others. We’re supposed to have limits. As Jen Wilkin says in this podcast episode, “We’re limited by design… we have limits that are God-ordained and for our good.” Consider what Kevin DeYoung writes in Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem:
Jesus did not do it all. Jesus didn’t meet every need. He left people waiting in line to be healed. He left one town to preach to another. He hid away to pray. He got tired. He never interacted with the vast majority of people on the planet. He spent thirty years in training and only three years in ministry. He did not try to do it all. And yet, he did everything God asked him to do.
God knows you can’t do it all. He doesn’t expect you to. He “remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). God wants us to acknowledge our limits and place our lives in His limitless hands:
I lift up my eyes to the hills.
From where does my help come?
My help comes from the Lord,
who made heaven and earth.
4 — There is a time for everything.
There are matters of right and wrong, and then there are matters of timing. We read in Ecclesiastes that:
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven… a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted… a time to seek, and a time to lose, a time to tear, and a time to sew.”
Ecclesiastes 3:2, 6, 7
It’s possible that maybe this season of life is simply not the right time for that thing you think you should be doing. If you think this might be you, pray for God’s wisdom to discern, and he will give it (James 1:5).
5 — Take care of yourself.
We must attend to our own needs, including the physical. Think about Elijah running from Jezabel in 1 Kings 19. He irrationally concludes that he’s the only righteous person left in Israel and wants to die. He lays down under a tree and sleeps, and an angel comes to him – twice – and here’s what he tells him: eat some food. And drink some water. So he does. After some sleep and sustenence, Elijah is able to think clearly and gain the energy necessary to continue on his God-given mission.
When you’re feeling weary, depressed, or thinking unreasonably, remember Elijah. Are you rested? Are you hydrated? Have you eaten a good meal recently? We can’t serve others if we’re running on empty.
Mark 12:31 says to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Paul writes in the book of Ephesians:
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church
These verses tell us that we must care for ourselves if we are to care for others. While self-care is not our ultimate end, it is a necessary means to a life of service to God.
All that being said, it’s possible to take good care of ourselves physically and neglect to feed our souls on God. We need God’s Word more than food, His presence more than sleep. Following the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6, Jesus rebukes a crowd of followers for this very thing:
26 Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. 27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you… 33 For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world”…
34 “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”
35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”
Spiritual nourishment is the most important thing. But physical care matters, too. Take care of both.
6 — Pray.
Hebrews 4:16 says,
Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
When you need grace, pray for it. God will give it. Simple as that.
7 — God is awesome.
Remember that God loves you. You were worth dying for. He is your help and strength. He has given his Spirit to help you. He is patient. His love is never-ending. All of this is due to His holiness and goodness, not ours. The fact that a holy God could love such broken people may in itself be the greatest form of grace.
I love Lamentations 3:22:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end.
When you need grace, you need only look up. The love, mercy, and grace of God are free-flowing rivers to His children.