Friday, January 14, 2011

Grace givers, grace killers

I am in the middle of a great read; The Grace Awakening by Chuck Swindol. It is so relevant with some of the present circumstances and people that are currently in my life. I recognize times in my own life (including a few instances as of late) where I am guilty of being a grace killer rather than a grace giver.

In short, a grace killer is one who inflicts his personal decisions onto other people, creating a long list of does and don'ts and measuring spirituality by the level of compliance. We are not talking about black and white biblical directives. Those are non-negotiable. What we are talking about are things of conscience. For example, having grown up in legalistic churches, it was pounded into me that to go to movies, play cards, dance, drink alcohol, etc, brought great displeasure to God and were, in essence, sinful. No further discussion needed. The focus was on what not to do. I John 1:9 ("If we confess our sins He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness") hung like a ready bandaid around our necks for we were told that we would need to confess our sure-to-happen transgressions 24/7.

On the other hand, one who lives by grace understands Romans 6. There is nothing that justified us to the Father other than grace. We did not contribute one iota to the process. We were as dead as the proverbial doorknob. Nor can we add to the grace that was extended to us, earning brownie points to gain higher spiritual marks. We have been freed from the bondage of the sin master. We have been given the ability to concentrate on living a life not focused on "my sin, my shame, my failure," but rather on "His forgiveness, His grace, His life." That makes all the difference in the world. Our faces transform from sad and disparaging "no" faces to glowing and cheerful "yes" faces.

Swindol offers this analogy. There is a long and twisting mountain road with dangerous curves and sheer dropoffs. The state has two options. They could build emergency clinics at the bottom of the cliffs to tend to those who fail to negotiate the curves. Or, they could place warning signs on the road to instruct the motorists to slow down and use caution. Swindol points out that while the clinic at the bottom of the cliff is useful at times, it would have been better to avoid going over the edge in the first place. He equates the clinic to I John 1:9, a sometimes necessary restorative option but one that can, for the most part, be reserved for emergency situations. But, the signs along the road are more like Romans 6. Isn't it better to live positively in righteousness than to constantly call for first aid from the clinic?

This is not to imply that confessing our sins and being restored and forgiven is not important. Indeed it is. But we must begin to realize that God has saved us so that sin no longer is master (Romans 6:13-14). Waking up in the morning to realize that we are empowered by His grace to live righteously is far better than grimly assuming that we are destined to blow it.

It's all about grace. Grace that we have been given and the grace that we extend to others to live righteously and according to conscience.

9 comments:

Rick Gray said...

As I began to read your post, my silent inside of me voice began to scream WHY, WHY, WHY! After my ears quit hurting, I continued to read and I actually re-read your post again so it could sink in even deeper. I think I see some of my own issues that lead to my own frustrations with others. Sounds like I have some thinking to do and now another book to buy to help me through this process. You know how I don't like to fall off of cliffs! Thank You

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Haha. The book really is food for fodder. As the author points out, allowing people to live by grace can feel dangerous...too much freedom run amok. But, if we really understand grace, we can live in the power of that grace and not be afraid to allow others to make decisions in areas of conscience. Getting rid of a condemning spirit, however, when they allow themselves what we chose not to allow, is had to do.

BTW-If you look for the book, you will find two covers. The one with a white cover and a single rose on it is apparently a new addition. I think it has a few other features to guide discussion but the text is basically the same.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

PS. Read Romans 6 a couple of times. Lots to think about!

UltraBrad said...

Just a comment...

For me, the thing that has to go hand-in-hand with grace is humility. Without humility, we can't really (if we ever could anyway) understand the implication and magnitude of grace. Only by the combination of the two, can we start to think about extending grace to others in the way Jesus did/does...

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Good point, Brad. The antithesis of grace is selfishness and ego-centrism which make humility impossible.

jenn said...

I love chuck swindol (sp?) my mother would read me his books as a child when I was going to sleep. I know that may sound strange ( not really bedtime stories?) but my mom would use bedtime as devotional time with me and always pray for me every night before I'd go to sleep. never failing to come pray for me every single night I slept at home. ( this lasted from my earliest memories as a toddler WAY into my college years) I'm so thankful she did that for me, and I strive to do the same for my boys every evening.

Thanks so much for this post. I too was raised in church that fostered an environment of " don'ts" .... and "sinner's in the hands of an angry God" fire and brimstone sermons.. where grace seemed so unattainable and I always felt completely unworthy. It really wasn't until well into my late 20's that I realized that isn't it wonderful jesus died for THE WORLD? God knows all our hearts. I may not always be perfect and I make mistakes everyday, but there is level footing at the cross for US ALL! :o) and that includes me and you!

Joy said...

I absolutely love that book and the concepts in it. The message has been very convicting at times and very freeing at other times. The "Letting Go" poem in it is one of my favorites. I highly recommend this book no matter where you stand spiritually.

Rebekah Trittipoe said...

Jenn, Thanks so much for your post. My mom and dad would come and kneel with us kids to pray before bed. Great memories. What a testimony and spiritual legacy. So glad for your mom!

Joy, thanks for turning me onto this book in the first place!

ultracassie said...

Rebekah,

I looked into this book because of your recommendation. Once I read part of the preview in Google books, I knew I needed to read it. I totally get what the author is saying. Often I have found myself unable to express with words what grace is all about because I am just not used to talking about it. People don't know what they are willingly giving up, and it is so amazing that surely no one would give it up if they knew it. This books is exactly what I needed. Thanks!

Cassie